Altruism in the Savannah sparrow?

Patrick J. Weatherhead, Raleigh J. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Six of eight male Savannah sparrows removed from their territories just prior to their eggs hatching were replaced by new individuals. While the ensuing behavior of all but one replacement bird might be considered altruistic, such behavior is interpreted as a response to an artificial situation occurring infrequently naturally. Since the response would normally be advantageous (when the female was the male's mate) and rarely disadvantageous, maintenance of the response is evolutionarily favored. 2. Contrary to the suggestion that the sequential hormonal changes accompanying breeding have been selected for as a means to minimize altruistic errors, we argue that any advantage so derived would be coincidental rather than the primary selective force.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-186
Number of pages2
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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