Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Birds must choose between mating, migrating, study finds

06.04.2011
Sex or nice weather. That's the agonizing choice some birds face, according to a new University of Guelph study.

A team led by Guelph researchers discovered that for some male birds traveling to areas with lighter rainfall comes at the cost of attracting a female when they return home.

Alice Boyle, a former U of G post-doc, Prof. Ryan Norris and Prof. Chris Guglielmo, a biologist at the University of Western Ontario, examined the breeding behaviour of the white-ruffed manakin. This small Costa Rican bird is partially migratory, choosing each year whether to migrate or stay.

During the heavy rainy season some Manakins will migrate to lower elevations where the lighter rainfall makes it easier to forage for food.

The researchers discovered the males that choose to stay behind may gain better breeding sites and are more likely to increase or maintain their standing within the population, making them more attractive to females.

"The manakins are faced with the choice of boosting their chances of survival or boosting their chances of breeding," said Norris, an integrative biology professor. "Most animals migrate because of the cold but in the tropics you see some populations that are partially migratory. These species provide a window into the evolution of migrating and a unique opportunity to examine the costs and benefits of this behaviour."

The study published today in Biology Letters is the first to investigate costs and benefits of staying or going in a partially migratory species.

During two breeding seasons, the researchers tagged almost 200 birds to observe their status and mating success. Alpha males in the population often have the most prominent breeding sites and perform the most elaborate aerobatic displays to attract the females.

To learn which birds had migrated or not before the breeding season, the scientists tested samples of their claws. Migrating birds have more heavy hydrogen in their claws. Rain at the lower elevation contains more of these isotopes, which end up in plants and berries eaten by the manakins, said Norris.

"These isotopes of hydrogen then become fixed in their nails," he said. "The problem with studying migration is that it's hard to follow the animals around, but this method allowed us to go back in time to find out what the bird was doing before we captured it."

The researchers found that males that did not migrate had better breeding sites, a higher status and attracted more females than the migrating males.

Choosing to stay or go is likely based on a number of factors, said Boyle.

"Birds that are younger are more likely to migrate because they still have several years of breeding opportunities ahead of them," she said. "It's often the older birds with a higher status that stay not only because there is a sense of urgency to breed but also they know staying will improve their chances of becoming an alpha."

Migrating birds are often in poorer condition and less likely to survive the heavy rains, said Boyle. They also aren't next in line to becoming an alpha so they won't be losing out on the opportunity if they leave, she added.

"These factors can change from year to year which is why we see these birds choose different options each year. They have to decide what makes the most sense for them based on their status and condition."

* Two videos are available to accompany this story. They are posted on YouTube at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/RoyalSociety#p/u/1/OY7DNrDFrk0

http://www.youtube.com/user/RoyalSociety#p/u/0/CAppMDvoul8

Contact:
Prof. Ryan Norris
Department of Integrative Biology
University of Guelph
519 824-4102, Ext. 56300/54582
rnorris@uoguelph.ca
Alice Boyle, Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Biology and the Advanced Facility for Avian Research
University of Western Ontario
aboyle7@uwo.ca
519 661-2111, Ext. 84669

Ryan Norris | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uoguelph.ca

Further reports about: Birds Ontario heavy rain lighter rainfall migrating synthetic biology

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht Scientists generate an atlas of the human genome using stem cells
24.04.2018 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>