Life as a wild baby bird can involve a lot of stress; competing with your siblings, dealing with extreme weather, and going hungry due to habitat loss are just a few examples. However, birds have an amazing capacity to overcome stresses experienced early in life and go on to reproductive success as adults, according to a new Perspective paper in The Auk: Ornithological Advances by Hugh Drummond and Sergio Ancona of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Some experiments with birds in captivity have found that increasing early-life stress through food deprivation, elevated stress hormones, and other means has negative effects once birds reach adulthood, causing them to live shorter lives and produce fewer offspring.
However, Drummond and Ancona argue that the artificial stresses created in these experiments go well beyond what would ever be experienced by wild birds and therefore don't reflect what happens in nature.
Reviewing the available studies describing how wild birds fare as adults after experiencing stress in the nest, they give several examples of birds' ability to compensate for their early disadvantages, making adjustments such as beginning to breed earlier in life.
Drummond's interest in bird resilience arose from his research on Blue-footed Boobies. "There were dozens of published studies, mostly experimental, appearing to show that setbacks early in infancy left birds scarred in some way for the rest of their lives," he explained.
"But when we analyzed our own observations on Blue-footed Boobies, following individuals banded at fledging over their lifetimes, what stood out was their resilience to severe stresses in infancy. For example, boobies that grew up suffering daily oppression by their elder siblings performed just as well as those siblings on a whole suite of measures taken during adulthood, including annual survival at all ages, age of first breeding, aggressive defense of offspring, and reproductive success at all ages."
"The authors have helped reorient researchers to a vastly understudied area--the evolutionary interplay between early life conditions and phenotypic plasticity," adds Daniel Ardia, an expert in life history tradeoffs in birds from Franklin & Marshall College who was not involved with the paper. "While laboratory experiments are essential to understand genetic and physiological mechanisms, it is only in field conditions that we will gain insight into the flexibility of development in the face of changing environmental conditions. This Perspective helps chart the way forward for field and laboratory researchers alike."
About the journal: The Auk: Ornithological Advances is a peer-reviewed, international journal of ornithology. The journal has been the official publication of the American Ornithologists' Union since 1884. In 2009, The Auk was honored as one of the 100 most influential journals of biology and medicine over the past 100 years, and currently holds the top impact factor among ornithological journals.
"Observational field studies reveal wild birds responding to early-life stresses with resilience, plasticity, and intergenerational effects" is available at http://www.
Hugh Drummond | EurekAlert!
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences