Fenner seminar next week - Constanza's research on our beloved white-win

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Subject: Fenner seminar next week - Constanza's research on our beloved white-winged choughs
From: Kathryn Eyles <>
Date: Thu, 18 May 2017 01:31:20 +0000

Dear chat liners 

PhD seminar of interest esp. as some of you have assisted Constanza's research 

23 May 10am Seminar Room, Frank Fenner Building  

Exploring the social structure of an extremely social bird species, the obligate cooperatively breeding white-winged choughs (Corcorax melanorhamphos)

Constanza León (Mid-term Review)


The emergence of cooperation in animal societies is an intriguing subject in evolutionary biology, because of the costs associated with helping others.
Since cooperating requires social interactions among individuals, it is important to understand the consequences these interactions have at population level. Interactions among individuals are usually non-random, meaning that not all members of a population interact to the same degree or even in the same way. It is the variation of social interactions and associations that defines a population’s social structure.

By describing the social structure of an extremely social and cooperative bird, the Australian white-winged chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos), we expect to further understand the underlying patterns that motivate cooperative behaviour. 


White-winged choughs are obligate cooperative breeders, with groups usually consisting of a breeding pair and many helpers. The whole group works together to rear the young of a single pair, assisting with all necessary tasks from building the nest to feeding and defending young birds.
During my PhD I have banded and collected genetic samples of different groups of choughs for individual identification, to monitor them during breeding and non-breeding seasons. I am observing their individual cooperative efforts to feed and defend the young, the associations inside and between groups, their individual personalities, and the groups’ response to conflict. During the seminar, I will talk about the specific questions I am planning to answer, the progress I have made, and what I am hoping to accomplish by the end of my last field season.


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