Wed 12 February 2014 07:30pm

Short talk: Neil Hermes introduces COG's 50th anniversary.
Main presentation: Prof Andrew Cockburn asks

As part of the COG 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2014, the committee has resolved that the short presentations at the monthly meetings should be a series of talks related to COG’s history and main activities over the years.  As an introduction to these presentations Vice-President Neil Hermes, the main organiser for the celebrations, will give a scene setting talk for the COG 50th anniversary generally and for the rest of the talks that will follow.

The main presentation will be by Professor Andrew Cockburn, Division of Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Australian National University entitled “Go forth young girl: why do female fairy-wrens always leave home?

In most mammals, with our own species an obvious exception, baby boys wander off to discover the world while baby girls stay near the area in which they were born.  Birds are starkly different – it is the girls that usually leave home (unless you are a duck).  Although this is one of the most famous patterns in animal behaviour, it still defies a clean explanation.  One of the most compelling but poorly tested ideas is that having one sex move earlier and further prevents close relatives from mating with each other.  In this talk Andrew will explain how his long-term study of cooperation and infidelity in superb fairy-wrens in the Australian National Botanic Gardens is poised to crack this problem. However, he will also show that to make further advances we need the help of enthusiastic bird-watchers to participate in a ‘Citizen Science’ project, and he will sketch a way that COG could help with that goal.

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