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Cooperative breeding

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Cooperative breeding is a social system in which individuals help care for young that are not their own. The non-parental care givers (alloparents) may be other reproducing adults, as in the case of lionesses who litter at the same time nursing and caring for their cubs communally; reproductively mature but non-reproducing adults, as in subordinate wolves helping to feed and protect the pups of the alpha female; sub-fertile or infertile adults, such as the worker castes in social insects species; post-reproductive adults, as in human grandmothers caring for their grandchildren; or sub-adults, as in young Florida scrub jays who stay with their parents a year or two as helpers at the nest before leaving to mate. Bi-parental care, in which a male forgoes pursuit of additional mating opportunities to serve as an allomother and help care for youngsters that are likely his offspring, shares many characteristics with cooperative breeding and could be considered a subset of it.

See also

Sources

  • The Past, Present, and Future of the Human Family, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, one of The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Delivered at University of Utah February 27 and 28, 2001 [1]
  • BIO 555/755 Behavioral Ecology, Instructor: Gary Ritchison
    • Lecture Notes 8: Cooperation & Helping - Cooperative Breeding in Vertebrates [2]
    • Lecture Notes 8b: Insect Sociality [3]
  • Cooperative Breeding in Mammals, by Nancy G. Solomon (Editor), Jeffrey A. French (Editor) Cambridge University Press (November 28, 1996), ISBN 0-521-45491-3

Further reading

  • Mace, R. and Sear, R. (2005) Are humans cooperative breeders? In: Grandmotherhood: the Evolutionary Significance of the Second Half of Female Life. Edited by E. Voland, A. Chasiotis & W. Schiefenhoevel. Rutgers University Press, Piscataway. pp 143-159. Full text
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