Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mother Finch Controls Baby’s Sex to Increase Survival Odds


Most mothers-to-be must simply hope for healthy offspring. But female house finches tip the odds in their babies’ favor by pre-determining their gender, a new study suggests. According to a report published in the current issue of the journal Science, enterprising mother house finches adjust the sex and growth of their offspring to account for the order in which the eggs are laid, thereby reducing the mortality of their sons and daughters by 10 to 20 percent.

Image ©Science/A. Badyaev

Alexander Badyaev of the University of Montana, Missoula, and colleagues studied two populations of the house finch, Carpodacus mexicanus, that have diverged significantly over the past 20 years. The scientists found predictable patterns in how a baby finch’s sex and position in the laying order affected both its growth pattern and its chance of survival. In the Montana population, first-born females exhibited better survival odds than their male counterparts did. But in Alabama, first-born males survived more often. Such survival discrepancies seem to drive maternal finches to select whether sons or daughters hatch first. "Breeding females in both Montana and Alabama populations lay male and female eggs in different sequences within clutches," the authors write, "thus placing sons and daughters in the most advantageous positions for survival in that particular environment."

Exactly how finch mothers control their offspring’s sex, survival and growth remains a mystery. The researchers note that such adjustments facilitate adaptation to local environments. Observing such acclimatization, they conclude, provides "empirical support for the hypothesis that parental effects play a crucial role at the initial stages of population divergence by enabling establishment of populations in novel environments."

Sarah Graham | Scientific American

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>