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 Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>