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  1. #1
    Cycleon is offline AR-Hall of Famer / Retired
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    Aug 2001
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    Arrow Why Scammers keep scamming

    As printed in Smithsonian mag - a good reasoning based on observed animal science as to why people are thieves - and why scammers inevitably keep scamming

    To Catch a Thief

    When biologists study food theft among endangered roseate terns, they find that crime most definitely pays

    On Connecticut’s tiny Falkner Island, researchers have found that contrary to conventional wisdom, crime does pay—at least among roseate terns. Kleptoparasitism, the practice of stealing food to feed oneself, one’s young or a mate, was first noticed in terns in 1973. But Dave Shealer, an ecologist based at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and Jeff Spendelow, a U.S. Geological Survey research biologist at Maryland’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, have recently published research that has shed new light on this behavior.

    Spendelow first began studying roseates on Falkner 25 years ago. Nearly 3,000 pairs of common terns and 45 pairs of their smaller, endangered cousins, the roseates, make their nest here. In 1987, he devised an ingenious system of banding that did not require recapturing the birds to identify them: unique combinations of colored plastic bands that can be seen with a spotting scope from as far as 75 yards away. Using this banding system, Spendelow has been able to make and monitor the ups and downs of the terns’ population and Shealer was able to identify individual terns and their behaviors.

    Shealer found that kleptoparasitism is indeed a way of life for two males and eight females, or 4 percent of what was then Falkner Island’s nesting roseate population. The thieves employed a number of scams and tricks to get their food. A female called the Good Mother swooped on its quarry from above or slashed from below. Other klepto terns preferred to jump their victims on the ground. A few crafty females bided their time until a neighbor arrived home with a fish, then blocked the neighbor’s access to its chicks and grabbed the fish. One female would flirt with a fish-laden male by being submissive and begging, behavior that is a prelude to mating. "When the foolish male would fall for it and attempt a mounting on her back in preparation for copulation," says Shealer, "she tilted her head upward, snatched the fish from the distracted suitor and took off without so much as a backward glance."

    A male klepto dubbed Supertern brought several fish in rapid succession to his mate. Once she was satiated, he would then fly off to visit other, single, females, offering stolen fish—the tern equivalent of a box of chocolates—to female after female, until he won what biologists call "extra pair copulation."

    Klepto terns can not only produce more chicks through such a strategy, but because they can feed their chicks more food, their offspring are healthier and therefore far more likely to survive and have chicks of their own. This, says Shealer, makes the outlaws the big winners in the game of life, where success is measured by the ability of individuals to pass their genes along to the following generation.

    Why do they steal their food? Shealer says, "I believe that kleptoparasitism is not just a matter of opportunism." Nor, he says, is it laziness—'a way to avoid the up to an hour-long, 25-mile round-trip flight out to sea to search for their favorite fish, sand lances. Perhaps, he speculates, some birds simply discover that they are good at stealing. Whatever motivates terns to steal, it’s clear that "kleptoparasitism is not a loser’s strategy," says Shealer.

    MORAL OF THE STORY - scammers will keep scamming until people quit talking and actually do something to scammers to make them think that it isnt worthwhile to continue...

  2. #2
    Aragorn's Avatar
    Aragorn is offline Senior Member
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    Aug 2002
    BC, Canada
    Down with SUPERTERN'S!!!!


  3. #3
    Testify's Avatar
    Testify is offline Senior Member
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    Jul 2003
    The Asshole Capitol
    Great article, Cyc. I have a new word at my disposal now. Just think of all the situations in which "kleptoparasite" fits!

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