Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why birds of a feather lek together

01.03.2012
University of Miami biologist and his collaborators find that in some groups of birds close relatives enhance each other's mating success

Certain kinds of male birds gather into small clusters of land called leks to perform their courtship dances, and according to science, who they choose to associate with matters.

A new study by University of Miami Evolutionary Biologist J. Albert Uy and his collaborators finds that some male birds are better at attracting females if they gather with close male kin, than in the company of distant relatives. The findings provide an intriguing account of why individuals help each other, especially when cooperating can be costly.

The study is titled "Kin selection may contribute to lek evolution and trait introgression across an avian hybrid zone." The article is available online in Early View and will be in print in March, Volume 21 Issue 6 of Molecular Ecology.

In relatively recent times in the evolution of life, some manakin birds of Central America split into two groups. White-collared manakins occupy the area from Mexico to Panama, while yellow-collared manakins live between Panama and Colombia. Males are colorful, while females are brown. The two species meet in northwest Panama and form leks together, which gives scientists the opportunity to see what happens when new species reunite.

The researchers found that in the area where the two manakin species come together, females are attracted to yellow-collared males more than to white-collared males, but only when there are lots of other yellow males within leks. Biologists call this effect "positive frequency dependent selection."

"Where females can compare white and yellow males simultaneously, the yellow males do a lot better than white males, but only with high numbers of other yellow males independent of lek size," says Uy, associate professor of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UM and principal investigator of this project. "White males do not experience a mating advantage, regardless of lek composition."
However, only a few of the yellow males in each lek get all the girls. So why do other yellow males help? The new study finds that the yellow males within leks are more closely related than males between leks. This suggests the possibility that even less successful relatives may profit from lekking with their Don Juan-like cousins.

"We think that these yellow males that help out their relatives are benefiting by passing on their family genes indirectly," says Uy. "It's a bit controversial, but it adds evidence of what is called kin selection—selection driven by kinship—pushing some of the dynamics of lekking, as well affecting the interactions between two species when they re-establish contact."


Co-authors of the study are Moira R. Concannon, graduate student in the University of Massachusetts, former undergraduate researcher in Uy's lab, and first author of the study; and Adam C. Stein, instructor in the Monteverde Institute and former graduate student in Uy's lab.
Uy's research uses tropical birds and a multiplicity of modern approaches to explore the origin of biological species. He is also deeply involved with conservation and will be taking University of Miami students for a field-based course in the Solomon Islands this summer.

Uy is Aresty Chair in Tropical Ecology at UM. Patricia Aresty, B.S. '76 and Jeffrey Aresty, '77, first met as University of Miami biology students conducting field research in Ecuador. In appreciation for the University's impact on their lives, the Arestys donated $2 million to endow the college's Aresty Chair in Tropical Ecology.

The University of Miami's mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. www.miami.edu

Marie Guma-Diaz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.miami.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making Waves

Computer scientists use wave packet theory to develop realistic, detailed water wave simulations in real time. Their results will be presented at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference.

Think about the last time you were at a lake, river, or the ocean. Remember the ripples of the water, the waves crashing against the rocks, the wake following...

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanostructures taste the rainbow

29.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique unveils 'matrix' inside tissues and tumors

29.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways

29.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>