Study | Purple-Crown Fairy Wren Loses Halo To Scheming Behavior

GreenTracker| Purple-crowned fairy wrens have lost their reputation as angelic, selfless little helpers.  In fact, the cooperative breeding birds that have long confounded Darwin’s theory of natural selection are cunning little creatures.

Researchers could explain the perplexing habits of older or half-sibling wrens to help raise their relatives on the grounds that they were spreading their genes in the gene pool.

But why in the world would purple-crowned fairy wrens help total strangers? Real estate.

Dr Anne Peters, of the Monash University School of Biological Sciences, together with co-authors Sjouke Kingma from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and Michelle L. Hall of the Australian National University have concluded a long term study showing that the wrens are astute in knowing that when they help out, their chance of inheriting the current breeding territory increases. Their behavior doesn’t undercut Darwin’s theory. By increasing their chances of inheriting the current breeding territory, the purple-crowned fairy wrens are preparing to raise their own kind in the future.

Note that in humans, researchers believe they have located an altruism gene.