Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 147–153 | Cite as

The effects of helpers in cooperatively breeding purple gallinules

  • Laurie A. Hunter


The effects of helpers in a population of cooperatively breeding purple gallinules (Porphyrula martinica) were examined. All young birds past the age of 2 months helped feed and protect subsequent broods of chicks and participated in territorial defense. Most helpers remained on their natal territories for approximately 1 year. The number of helpers varied both among and within breeding groups. Clutch production and chick survival were related positively to the number of helpers in the group. The increase in chick survival was independent of several measures of territory quality. Helpers possibly aided chick survival by provicing extra food for the chicks and decreasing predation risk. Helpers were necessary in order for a breeding pair to keep a territory long enough to produce more than one clutch of eggs. A change in the number of helpers (increase or decrease) often was followed by a similar change in territory size. These results suggest that purple gallnule helpers can increase the reproductive success of the breeding group and may be vital for the continued maintenance of a breeding territory.


Reproductive Success Predation Risk Breeding Pair Territory Size Territorial Defense 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brown JL (1969) Territorial behavior and population regulation in birds. Wilson Bull 81:293–329Google Scholar
  2. Brown JL (1970) Cooperative breeding and altrustic behavior in the mexican jay, Aphelocoma ultramarina. Anim Behav 18:366–378Google Scholar
  3. Brown JL (1974) Alternate routes to sociality in jays-with a theory for the evolution of altruism and communal breeding. Am Zool 14:63–80Google Scholar
  4. Brown JL (1978) Avian communal breeding systems. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 9:123–155Google Scholar
  5. Brown JL, Balda RP (1977) The relationship of habitat quality to group size in Hall's babbler (Pomatostomus halli). Condor 79:312–320Google Scholar
  6. Brown JL, Dow DD, Brown ER, Brown SD (1978) Effects of helpers on feeding of nestlings in the grey-crowned babbler (Pomatostomus temporalis). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 4:43–59Google Scholar
  7. Brown JL, Brwon ER (1981) Kin selection and individual selection in babblers. In: Alexander RD, Tinkle DW (eds) Natural selection and social behavior: Recent research and new theory. Chiron Press, New York, pp 244–256Google Scholar
  8. Brown JL, Brown ER, Brown SD, Dow DD (1982) Helpers: Effects of experimental removal on reproductive success. Science 215:421–422Google Scholar
  9. Craig JL (1974) The social organization of the pukeko Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus. Unpublished Ph D thesis Massey University N ZealandGoogle Scholar
  10. Craig JL (1976) An interterritorial hierarchy: An advantage for a subordinate in a communal territory. Z Tierpsychol 42:200–205Google Scholar
  11. Craig JL (1977) The behaviour of the pukeko, Porphyio porphyrio melanotus. New Zealand J Zool 4:413–433Google Scholar
  12. Craig JL (1979) Habitat variation in the social organization of a communal gallinule, the pukeko, Porphyrio porphyrio melenotus. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 5: 331–358Google Scholar
  13. Craig JL (1980) Breeding success of a communal gallinule. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 6:289–295Google Scholar
  14. Craig JL (1984) Are communal pukeko caught in the prisoner's dilenma? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 14:147–150Google Scholar
  15. Dow DD (1977) Reproductive behavior of the noisy miner, a communally breeding honeyeater. Living Bird 16:163–185Google Scholar
  16. Emblen ST (1978) The evolution of cooperative breeding in brids. In: Krebs JR, Davies NB (eds) Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA. pp 245–281Google Scholar
  17. Emlen ST (1982) The evolution of helping. I. An ecological constraints model. Am Nat 119:29–39Google Scholar
  18. Fry CE (1972) The social organization of bee-eaters (Meropidae) and cooperative breeding in hot-climate brids. Ibis 114 1–14Google Scholar
  19. Gaston AJ (1978) The evolution of group territorial behavior and cooperative beeding. Am Nat 112:1091–1100Google Scholar
  20. Grey of Fallodon Viscount (1927) The charm of birds. Frederick A. Stokes, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamilton WD (1964) The genetical evolution of social behaviour I, II. J Theor Biol 7:1–52Google Scholar
  22. Jenni DA, Collier G (1972) Polyandry in the American jacana (Jacama spinosa). Auk 89:743–765Google Scholar
  23. Koenig WD (1981) Reproductive success, group size, and the evolution of cooperative breeding in the acorn woodpecker. Am Nat 117:421–443Google Scholar
  24. Koenig WD, Pitelka FA (1981) Ecological factors and kin selection in the evolution of cooperative breeding in birdss. In: Alexander RD, Tinkle DW (eds) Natural selection and social behavior: Recent research and new theory. Chiron Press, New York, pp 261–280Google Scholar
  25. Krekorian CO (1987) Alloparental care in the purple gallinule. Conder 80:382–390Google Scholar
  26. Lack D (1968) Ecological adaptations for breeding in birds. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Lawton MF Guindon CF (1981) Flock composition, breeding success, and learning in the brown jay. Condor 83:27–33Google Scholar
  28. Ligon JD, Ligon SH (1978) The communal social system of the green woodhoopoe in Kenya. Living Bird 17:159–198Google Scholar
  29. MacRoberts MH, MacRoberts BR (1976) Social organization and behavior of the acorn woodpecker in central coastal California. Ornithol Monogr 21:1–115Google Scholar
  30. Maynard Smith J (1964) Group selection and kin selection. Nature 201:1145–1147Google Scholar
  31. Nice MM (1941) The role of territory in bird life. Am Midl Nat 26:441–487Google Scholar
  32. Nie NH, Hadlai Hull C, Jenkins JC, Steinbrenner K, Brent DH (1983) Statistical packege for the social sciences. McGraw-Hill, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Parry V (1973) The auxiliary social system and its effect on territory and breeding in kookaburras. Emu 73:81–100Google Scholar
  34. Reyer H-U (1980) Flexible helper structure as an ecological adaptation in the pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis rudis L.) Behav Ecol Sociobiol 6:219–227Google Scholar
  35. Ricklefs RE (1975) Evolution of co-operative breeding in birds. Ibis 117:531–534Google Scholar
  36. Ridpath MG (1972) The Tasmanian native hen, Tribonyx mortierii; I, II, III, CSIRO Wilds Res 17:1–118Google Scholar
  37. Rowley I (1965) The life history of the superb blue wren, Malurus cyaneus. Emu 64:251–297Google Scholar
  38. Rowley I (1976) Convener. Co-operative breeding in birds. Proc 16 Internat Ornithol Congr, pp 655–684Google Scholar
  39. Selander RK (1964) Speciation in wrens of the genus Campylorhynchus. Univ. Calif Publ Zool 74:1–224Google Scholar
  40. Skutch AF (1935) Helpers at the nest. Auk 52:257–273Google Scholar
  41. Skutch AF (1961) Helpers among birds. Condor 63:198–226Google Scholar
  42. Stallcup JA, Woolfenden GE (1978) Family status and contributions to breeding by Florida scrub jays. Anim Behav 26:1144–1156Google Scholar
  43. Vehrencamp SL (1978) The adaptive significance of communal nesting in groove-billed anis (Crotophaga sulcirostris). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 4:1–33Google Scholar
  44. Williams GR (1961) The takahe (Notornis mantelli Owen 1848). A general survey. Trans R Soc N Z 88:235–258Google Scholar
  45. Wood NA (1974) Breeding behaviour and biology of the moorhen. Brit Birds 67:104–115Google Scholar
  46. Woolfenden GE (1975) Florida scrub jay helpers at the nest. Auk 92:1–15Google Scholar
  47. Woolfenden GE (1976) Co-operative breeding in American birds. Proc 16 Internat Ornithol Congr, pp 674–684Google Scholar
  48. Woolfenden GE (1978) Growth and survival of young Florida scrub jays. Wilson Bull 90:1–18Google Scholar
  49. Woolfenden GE, Fitzpatrick JW (1978) The inheritance of territory in group-breeding birds. BioScience 28:104–108Google Scholar
  50. Woolfenden GE, Fitzpatrick JW (1984) The Florida scrub jay: Demography of a cooperative-breeding bird. Monogr Pop Biol. Princeton Univ Pres, Princeton NJGoogle Scholar
  51. Zahavi A (1974) Communal nesting by the Arabian babbler: a case of individual selection. Ibis 116:84–87Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurie A. Hunter
    • 1
  1. 1.Departiment of ZoologyUniversity of MontanaMissouaUSA

Personalised recommendations