Research Seminar: Professor Ben Hatchwell - University of Sheffield

8 March 2021, 12.00 PM - 8 March 2021, 1.00 PM

Professor Ben Hatchwell hosted by Professor Innes Cuthill



Kin recognition for helping and incest avoidance in a social bird: How good are kin discrimination rules?


Social animals must constantly make decisions about whether or not to interact cooperatively with potential social partners. Discrimination of kin from non-kin may be particularly important for maximisation of inclusive fitness, and yet the rules animals use to recognise kin, and their application in different contexts are poorly understood. In the kin-selected cooperative breeding system of long-tailed tits Aegithalos caudatus, individuals must be able to discriminate in favour of kin when making helping decisions, but they must also avoid kin and potential inbreeding depression when making pairing decisions. The acceptance threshold model provides a useful theoretical framework for understanding both decisions. In this talk, I will describe the rules used for recognition of relatives in the contexts of helping and pairing, and their effectiveness. I will show how the acceptance threshold model allows us to understand kin discrimination mechanisms and the occurrence of apparently maladaptive decision-making in social animals.

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