Melodrama, intrigue, and subterfuge: life as a highly social Arabian Babbler

Dr Krista Oswald

Melodrama, intrigue, and subterfuge: life as a highly social Arabian Babbler

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Arabian Babblers were one of, if not the first, studied social cooperative breeding bird. Since the 1960s, these charismatic birds have been the focus of research into the handicap principle, whether it’s worth it to help at someone else’s nest, whether it’s worth it to stay with your group or disperse to potentially greener pastures, and many other basic questions of behavioural ecology. While this research all took place in more natural desert reserves of the Arava valley, for the past year I have been setting up a new study site in an area of mixed-modified habitats consisting of villages, orchards, and “natural” desert land. One of the main theories behind cooperative breeding is that it evolved to suit birds in harsh environments. So are the intense social bonds strained in a highly modified, but resource heavy, habitat mosaic? The short answer is – probably, but as with most things, it’s complicated. These resource heavy habitats may be too good to be true.

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Thu, March 30, 2023 at 19h00 (SAST)
 

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