Conservation Colleagues Publish Paper

Thursday, October 28 2010

University of Idaho conservation colleagues recently published “Helper Effects on Pup Lifetime Fitness in the Cooperatively Breeding Red Wolf (Canis rufus) in “Proceedings of the Royal Society.”

Wildlife Professor Lisette Waits, Laboratory for Conservation and Ecological Genetics manager Jennifer Adams, alumnus Todd Steury and Dennis Murray, former wildlife faculty member, co-authored the paper, along with Amanda Sparkman, evolutionary biologist at Trent University in Ontario and Arthur Beyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service red wolf recovery program field team leader.

The article reported the team’s efforts to understand the effects of sibling helpers on red wolf pups throughout their lives. Their subjects were reintroduced red wolves roaming North Carolina, which were trapped and measured to establish life histories. The researchers found when wolves were scarce and prey abounded, pups with "helpers" – older siblings still in the family unit – fared better than those without. They were surprised to discover male pups that had helpers did not turn into reproductively successful adults. In fact, they found the opposite: male wolves that had grown up with helpers actually had fewer offspring over their lifetimes than males that had endured a helper-less cubhood.