Research Seminar: Professor Andy Russell - University of Exeter

2 December 2019, 1.00 PM - 2 December 2019, 2.00 PM

Professor Andy Russell hosted by Professor Andy Radford

Life Sciences Seminar Room G13/G14


From rules-of-thumb to referential matching: mechanisms of kin discrimination and its implications for social evolution in vertebrates


The role of kin selection in the evolution of cooperative breeding systems are routinely questioned on the grounds that helping non-kin is common. However, an alternative explanation for helping by non-kin in many cases might be recognition errors. I will begin by outlining the evidence for kin selection and the incidence of helping by non-kin in cooperative vertebrates, before going on to highlight the challenges of discriminating kinship. Drawing from social, mainly non-cooperative birds and mammals, I will then provide examples of the impressive capacities for individual and kin recognition, and question why such evidence is currently lacking in cooperative breeders. Could it be that refined kin recognition is selected against in kin selected cooperative breeders?


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