Homepage | Imprint
Lumrix Logo
Lumrix Wiki Logo
[ICD 10 Search]

[ICD 10 Search]



Altruism in animals

Altruism is a well-documented animal behaviour, which appears most obviously in kin relationships but may also be evident amongst wider social groups.


  • 1 Altruism : Kinship and reciprocity
  • 2 Examples of animal altruism
  • 3 See also
  • 4 External links

Altruism : Kinshipand reciprocity

Research in evolutionary theoryhas been applied to social behaviour, including altruism. Some animal altruistic behaviour is explained by kin selection. Beyond the physical exertions that mothers, and in some species fathers, undertake to protect their young, extreme examples of sacrifice may occur. One example is matriphagy(the comsumption of the mother by her offspring) in the spider Stegodyphus. Hamilton's rule describes the benefit of such altruism in terms of Wright's coefficient of relationshipto the beneficiary and the benefit granted to the beneficiary minus the cost to the sacrificer. Should this sum be greater than zero a fitness gain will result from the sacrifice.

When apparent altruism is not between kin, it may be based on reciprocity. A monkey will present its back to another monkey, who will pick out parasites; after a time the roles will be reversed. Such reciprocity will pay off, in evolutionary terms, as long as the costs of helping are less than the benefits of being helped and as long as animals will not gain in the long run by "cheating" - that is to say, by receiving favours without returning them.

Examples of animal altruism

  • Dolphinssupport sick or injured animals, swimming under them for hours at a time and pushing them to the surface so they can breathe,
  • Wolvesand wild dogsbring meat back to members of the pack not present at the kill,
  • Male baboonsthreaten predators and cover the rear as the troop retreats,
  • Gibbonsand chimpanzeeswith food will, in response to a gesture, share their food with others of the group.
  • Bonoboshave been observed aiding other injured or handicapped bonobos.[1]
  • Vampire batsregularly regurgitate blood and donate it to other members of their group who have failed to feed that night, ensuring they do not starve,
  • In numerous bird species, a breeding pair receives help in raising its young from other "helper" birds, who protect the nest from predators and help to feed the fledglings,
  • Most mammal carnivores like wolves or dogs have a habit of not harming pack members below certain age, of opposite sex or in surrendering position (in case of some animals, the behavior exists within entire species rather than one pack),
  • Vervet Monkeysgive alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators, even though in doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked.

See also

  • Ethics
  • Sociobiology
  • Animal rights
  • Evolutionary game theory
  • Altruism
  • The Descent of Man
  • Natural selection
  • Evolutionarily stable strategy

External links

  • Biological Altruism
  • International Union for the Study of Social Insects
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/Altruism_in_animals"

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism+in+animals Wikipedia article Altruism in animals.

  All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License