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Social structure and helping behaviour of the Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis

Eguchi, Kazuhiro, Yamaguchi, Noriyuki, Ueda, Keisuke, Nagata, Hisashi, Takagi, Masaoki, Noske, Richard
Journal für Ornithologie 2007 v.148 no.2 pp. 203-210
Passeriformes, adults, animal behavior, birds, breeding, females, group size, juveniles, migratory behavior, monogamy, monsoon season, nestlings, parental behavior, philopatry, progeny, sex ratio, sexual maturity, social structure, tropics, Australia
A 4-year study of cooperative breeding in the Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis was conducted in the monsoon-tropics of northern Australia. Most groups comprised a single socially monogamous pair with up to seven helpers. We found no floaters. The sex ratio was almost unity for each year. Helpers included philopatric offspring, immigrating juveniles and immigrating sexually mature birds. Adults of both sexes moved frequently between groups. Pairs without helpers were unable to raise young to fledging and often divorced, suggesting that cooperative breeding was obligatory in this population. However, for groups with helpers, the group size effect was weak; there was no significant correlation between the number of fledglings and number of helpers. Breeding females exclusively contributed to incubation. Breeders contributed more to provisioning of nestlings than non-breeders. Although helpers did not enhance the total provisioning rate to nestlings, small groups should recruit helpers to maintain the group and enhance reproductive success.