Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Childcare tug-of-war influences shorebird breeding systems

11.10.2006
The battle over who cares for the kids has played a key evolutionary role in deciding whether different species of shorebird are monogamous or polygamous, according to new research in the journal BioScience.

A demanding youngster means that parents are more likely to stay together to help rear their young, yet those with more hardy offspring are likely to battle it out to see who gets to leave the nest.

Played out over evolutionary time, it is this childcare tug-of-war which has shaped the varied breeding systems found amongst the world’s shorebirds, say researchers.

Scientists from the universities of Bath, Bristol and Imperial College London (all UK) focused on the Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) to help investigate the influences on the shorebirds’ breeding systems.

... more about:
»Influence »breeding »parent »shorebird

The Kentish plover is particularly interesting because whilst some pairs are monogamous, in other pairs either the male or female can be sequentially polygamous, mating several different times throughout the breeding season and leaving the abandoned partner to raise the chicks.

The scientists also found that whilst both males and females are equally adept at raising the offspring, the female parent is more likely to leave childcare responsibilities to her partner if there is a high ratio of unpaired males around. Mathematical modelling showed that if the sex ratio was reversed, so that there were more females than males, it would be likely that males would fly the nest in search of a mate.

The scientists also discovered that unpaired females would find a new mate faster (on average less than two days) after deserting the nest than males (average 12 days).

“Having systems of independent self-feeding young, compared to those that require feeding by the parents, opened the possibility for the evolutionary divergence of breeding systems to those where either females or males had more than one mate,” said Dr Tamas Szekely from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at the University of Bath.

“In those species which have demanding young, the parents are more likely to share responsibilities, suggesting that the burden of childcare has shaped breeding systems.

“Care is costly to parents because it takes time and energy, and incubating eggs and feeding young may put a parent at risk of predation.

“Unless they are likely to breed again in the future, each parent has only a short-term interest in its mate’s welfare.

“These short-term interests may be at odds with long-term interests in securing its own reproductive potential.

“An outcome of this is that a parent may gain by shunting parental care duties to its mate, so that it is free to mate with a new partner.

“We have much to discover about how and why population sex ratios are maintained and regulated by nature.

“We also need to grasp better how breeding systems function in nature, for example – if a youngster is reared in a father-only family, will this influence how it will behave with its own family.

“Although we assume the deserted parent loses out, we also need to find out if the deserted parent gets any benefit – for example by being able to demonstrate that it is a competent parent.

“We noted in our fieldwork that female Kentish plovers were unusually receptive to the courtship of males caring for nearly fledged and apparently healthy offspring.”

The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust.

BioScience is the monthly journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/articles/releases/breedingsystems101006.html

Further reports about: Influence breeding parent shorebird

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing in on advanced prostate cancer
13.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Visualizing single molecules in whole cells with a new spin
13.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>