Helping decisions and kin recognition in long-tailed tits: is call similarity used to direct help towards kin?
Leedale, Amy E
Lachlan, Robert F
Robinson, Elva JH
Hatchwell, Ben J
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
The Royal Society
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Leedale, A. E., Lachlan, R. F., Robinson, E. J., & Hatchwell, B. J. (2020). Helping decisions and kin recognition in long-tailed tits: is call similarity used to direct help towards kin?. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 375 (1802), 20190565. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0565
Most cooperative breeders live in discrete family groups, but in a minority, breeding populations comprise extended social networks of conspecifics that vary in relatedness. Selection for effective kin recognition may be expected for more related individuals in such kin neighbourhoods to maximize indirect fitness. Using a long-term social pedigree, molecular genetics, field observations and acoustic analyses, we examine how vocal similarity affects helping decisions in the long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus. Long-tailed tits are cooperative breeders in which help is typically redirected by males that have failed in their own breeding attempts towards the offspring of male relatives living within kin neighbourhoods. We identify a positive correlation between call similarity and kinship, suggesting that vocal cues offer a plausible mechanism for kin discrimination. Furthermore, we show that failed breeders choose to help males with calls more similar to their own. However, although helpers fine-tune their provisioning rates according to how closely related they are to recipients, their effort was not correlated with their vocal similarity to helped breeders. We conclude that although vocalizations are an important part of the recognition system of long-tailed tits, discrimination is likely to be based on prior association and may involve a combination of vocal and non-vocal cues. This article is part of the theme issue 'Signal detection theory in recognition systems: from evolving models to experimental tests'.
Animals, Songbirds, Animal Communication, Nesting Behavior, Cooperative Behavior, Helping Behavior, Cues, Auditory Perception, Decision Making, Male
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0565
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/306719
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