Project

Why do social species live longer? - Investigating interactions between helping and senescence in cooperatively breeding animals

Hammers, M., Weissing, F. & Komdeur, J.

16/11/201516/11/2019

Project: Research

Description

Individuals in species with a social breeding system often live longer than individuals in less social species. In some cooperatively breeding species, including humans, care for offspring is shared between the parents (breeders) and their helpers. Helpers can enable parents to reduce their investment in parental tasks, thereby conserving the parents’ resources that can be redirected to increase their survival and future reproduction. These observations lead to the intriguing possibility that receiving help can alleviate senescence – the progressive decline of somatic function with age, causing reduced survival and fecundity – and lead to increased longevity in parents. Because high longevity in parents increases constraints on independent breeding opportunities for helpers – an underlying driver of cooperative breeding – reduced senescence caused by helping may reinforce cooperative breeding behaviour. I will test the novel hypothesis that this positive feedback between helping and longevity leads to reduced senescence in parents and increased helping. Using a combination of empirical research, experiments and theoretical modelling, I will investigate how helping and senescence interact, both on individual and evolutionary timescales. I will use measures of fitness (reproduction and survival), physiological condition and an indicator of biological ageing (age-related telomere length), from the exceptional 30-year longitudinal dataset on cooperatively breeding Seychelles warblers (Acrocephalus sechellensis), to quantify how and why helping explains individual variation in senescence in parents, and test the hypothesis that delayed senescence in breeders promotes helping. Using evolutionary theoretical models, I will study how the impact of helping on parental senescence affects the evolution of cooperative breeding. Through this multifaceted approach my study will provide new and important insights into the impact of senescence on the evolution of social behaviour. The results will also contribute to our understanding of the factors and mechanisms that cause individual variation in reproductive and survival senescence in social species.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date16/11/201516/11/2019
Related Publications
  1. Compensatory and additive helper effects in the cooperatively breeding Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis)

    van Boheemen, L. A., Hammers, M., Kingma, S. A., Richardson, D. S., Burke, T., Komdeur, J. & Dugdale, H. L., Mar-2019, In : Ecology and Evolution. 9, 5, p. 2986-2995 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  2. Breeders that receive help age more slowly in a cooperatively breeding bird

    Hammers, M., Kingma, S. A., Spurgin, L. G., Bebbington, K. L., Dugdale, H., Burke, T., Komdeur, J. & Richardson, D. S., 21-Mar-2019, In : Nature Communications. 10, 10 p., 1301.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  3. Subordinate females in the cooperatively breeding Seychelles warbler obtain direct benefits by joining unrelated groups

    Groenewoud, F., Kingma, S. A., Hammers, M., Dugdale, H. L., Burke, T., Richardson, D. S. & Komdeur, J., Sep-2018, In : Journal of Animal Ecology. 87, 5, p. 1251-1263 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  4. Spatio-temporal variation in lifelong telomere dynamics in a long-term ecological study

    Spurgin, L. G., Bebbington, K., Fairfield, E. A., Hammers, M., Komdeur, J., Burke, T., Dugdale, H. L. & Richardson, D. S., Jan-2018, In : Journal of Animal Ecology. 87, 1, p. 187-198 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  5. Rescue behaviour in a social bird: Removal of sticky 'bird-catcher tree' seeds by group members

    Hammers, M. & Brouwer, L., 2017, In : Behaviour. 154, 4, p. 403-411 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

View all (9) »

Related Press / Media
  1. Samenwerken in het paradijs

    Martijn Hammers

    21/03/201909/06/2019

    3 items of Media coverage, 1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: ResearchPopular

  2. Wilde vogels kunnen elkaar redden uit benarde situaties

    Martijn Hammers & Lyanne Brouwer

    08/04/201718/04/2017

    3 items of Media coverage, 1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: ResearchAcademic

View all (2) »

Related Datasets
  1. Dataset from: Compensatory and additive helper effects in the cooperatively breeding Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis)

    van Boheemen, L. (Creator), Hammers, M. (Creator), Kingma, S. A. (Creator), Richardson, D. S. (Creator), Burke, T. (Creator), Komdeur, J. (Creator), Dugdale, H. (Creator), University of Groningen, 16-Aug-2018

    Dataset

  2. Data from: Breeders that receive help age more slowly in a cooperatively breeding bird

    Hammers, M. (Creator), Kingma, S. A. (Creator), Spurgin, L. (Creator), Bebbington, K. (Creator), Dugdale, H. (Creator), Burke, T. (Creator), Richardson, D. S. (Creator), University of Groningen, 21-Feb-2019

    Dataset

  3. Data from: Subordinate females in the cooperatively breeding Seychelles warbler obtain direct benefits by joining unrelated groups

    Groenewoud, F. (Creator), Kingma, S. A. (Creator), Hammers, M. (Creator), Dugdale, H. (Creator), Burke, T. (Creator), Richardson, D. S. (Creator), Komdeur, J. (Creator), University of Groningen, 15-May-2018

    Dataset

View all (7) »

Related Prizes
  1. NWO Veni Research Fellow

    Martijn Hammers (Recipient), 17-Jul-2015

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitivelyAcademic

View all (1) »

ID: 90833091