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Cooperative behaviour in cooperative breeders: Costs, benefits, and communal breeding.

Gilchrist, Jason



[Critical review of: R. Bergmüller, R. Johnstone, A. Russell and R. Bshary, Integrating cooperative breeding into theoretical concepts of cooperation, Behav. Process. 76 (2) 2007: 61-72.] In this issue, Bergmüller et al., 2007 ... have provided a valuable review paper, re-establishing cooperative breeding within a theoretical framework in field studies of cooperative breeding vertebrates. I am in agreement with the authors in their outlook and suggestions. In this critical review, I wish to (1) review the costs and benefits approach previously taken in the field, (2) evaluate communal breeding species with regard to the game-theoretical approach promoted by Bergmüller et al. (2007), and (3) consider the reasons why empiricists researching cooperative breeding have generally side-stepped a game-theoretical approach.

There is no doubting the great interest in cooperative breeding systems, in particular which individuals care for young, and the distribution of costs and benefits to care to determine whether and how individuals accumulate evolutionary fitness (Heinsohn and Legge, 1999). However, as Bergmüller et al. (2007) point out—this has proceeded relatively independently of game-theoretical approaches to cooperative behaviour.


Gilchrist, J. (2007). Cooperative behaviour in cooperative breeders: Costs, benefits, and communal breeding. Behavioural Processes, 76, 100-105.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2007-10
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2008
Print ISSN 0376-6357
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 76
Pages 100-105
Keywords Cooperative breeding; vertebrates; theories; field studies;costs and benefits; game theory models; empirical approaches; evolutionary gains;
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