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!
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences