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Trends Ecol Evol. 1999 Feb;14(2):53-57.

The cost of helping.


Cooperative breeding in mammals, birds and fish has provided evolutionary biologists with a rich framework for studying the causes and consequences of group-based reproduction. Helping behaviour is especially enigmatic because it often entails an individual sacrificing personal reproduction while assisting others in their breeding attempts. The decision to help others to reproduce is affected by immediate and future costs analogous to those of direct reproduction, but these components of the equation have usually been neglected. Recent research suggests that the type of benefit sought could determine the extent of help given.

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