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Female birds age more slowly and live longer when they have help raising their offspring, according to new research from the University of Sheffield.
Researchers studied the relationship between ageing and offspring rearing patterns in the Seychelles warbler, and found that females who had assistance from other female helpers benefitted from a longer, healthier lifespan.
Findings - Species - Humans - Groups - Cooperate
The findings help explain why social species, such as humans, which live in groups and cooperate to raise offspring, often have longer lifespans.
The study was led by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, in collaboration with the universities of Sheffield, Leeds and Wageningen, and with Nature Seychelles.
Professor - Terry - Burke - University - Sheffield
Professor Terry Burke, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: "It is well understood that one of the benefits of having relatives' help to raise offspring is that this improves the survival of the young. We have now shown that as parents age they decline in their ability to care for their offspring, but having helpers compensates for this effect, allowing the parents to continue to reproduce successfully into old age. This result helps to answer the question of why some animals assist others to reproduce, instead of raising their own offspring."
Professor David S Richardson, from UEA's School of Biological Sciences, said: "There is huge variation in lifespan between different species, and also between individuals within a species. But we know very little about what causes one individual to live a long healthy life, and another to die young. Or indeed, why individuals in one species live much longer than individuals in another similar species.
Ageing - Relationship - Sociality - Species
"Finding out more about what causes biological ageing is really important. And, until now, there has been very little known about the relationship between sociality and ageing within species."
Many species have cooperative...
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