www.badgerland.co.uk
Fact-based scientifically-accurate educational information about Badgers
Home Shop Animals Pictures Help Seeing Groups Education News Search Books
Teaching Age 3-7 Age 8-11 Age 12-16 Age 17+ Poems Stories Politics Research Journals
 

Helpers provide no benefits in the European badger (Meles meles)

Badgerland online shop

Journal

Journal of Zoology Volume 250 Issue 1,Pages113-119 Published Online: 28Feb2006

Authors

Rosie Woodroffe 1 David W. Macdonald 1
1 Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K.
All correspondence to present address: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K. E-mail: r.b.woodroffe@warwick.ac.uk

Abstract

Many studies of co-operatively breeding vertebrates have shown that social groups which contain more helpers experience higher reproductive success. Few of these studies, however, have demonstrated that this is a causal relationship. Using data on a co-operatively breeding population of European badgers Meles meles, this study shows that the relationship between helper number and group reproductive success is a spurious one generated through the effect of territory quality. Within this population, most variation in cub production, growth rate and survival is explained by variation in food availability between years and between territories. Unusually for mammals, juvenile mortality is markedly higher in females than in males. After controlling for such effects, helpers appear to have only negative effects upon group reproductive success, and mothers with helpers are in poorer condition at the end of the breeding period than those without helpers. A high proportion of helpers are sexually mature females which have failed to breed as a result of intense competition for resources. Under such circumstances, alloparental care represents a low-cost, low-benefit behaviour which may mitigate the negative impact that non-breeding group members have upon the reproductive success of their close relatives.

Keywords

co-operative breeding alloparental care juvenile mortality sex-biased mortality Meles meles

Web site

 

Badger by Tim Roper Collins New Naturalist Library (114) - Badger
This reference work is packed with detail about the badger - great for studious readers - there is no better book in print.  Click here to buy:
Paperback edition or Hardback edition
Kindle edition
Scientific Journals Copyright
These are simplified abstracts of scientific papers about badgers. Copyright in the journal article remains with the third-party copyright owner. This may be the publisher of the journal, the organisation who commissioned the work or the researchers. For further details, contact the publisher of the journal or the corresponding author.
Badgerland do not provide electronic or paper copies of journals.
We do not condone or encourage copyright infringement.