Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Risky metabolism: Risk-taking behaviour depends on metabolic rate and temperature in great tits

30.09.2014

Animals often differ in their behavioural response to risky situations such as exposure to predators.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology now found in a long-term study on different populations of great tits that risk-taking behaviour correlates with both metabolic rate and ambient temperature. High metabolic rates and low temperatures were associated with high risk-taking behaviour, as in these scenarios birds were more likely to approach potential predators.


In great tits the metabolism effects their risk behaviour

© Jan Wijmenga

The readiness to take a risk is to a great extent influenced by external circumstances. A recent study showed that men living singly are more risk-prone than those living in a steady relationship. Individual differences in risk-taking behaviour are present not only in humans but also in other vertebrates and even in invertebrates such as the Beadlet anemone.

However, not only external factors can explain these differences in behaviour, but also the basal metabolic rate of the body. For example, in great tits there are large individual differences in basal metabolic rate are consistent over extended periods of time (e.g. years).

A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen now found in a long-term study in great tits a relationship between risk-taking behaviour and metabolic rate. Moreover, they investigated how risk-taking behaviour depends on environmental factors.

Within the study period of two years they were able to determine the behaviour and metabolic rate of 184 individual great tits from 12 populations between two lakes in Upper Bavaria, the “Ammersee” and the “Starnberger See”. The birds were captured when roosting inside their nest boxes and brought to the lab to measure metabolic rates. The birds were then equipped with passive transponders, so-called “pit-tags”, and released back to their territories.

There, the researchers installed bird feeders that were fitted with antennas connected to radio frequency identification readers to monitor the movement of great tits. In order to monitor risk-taking behaviour a stuffed model of a sparrowhawk was presented next to the feeders accompanied by playbacks of great tit mobbing calls. With the aid of the transponders, the researchers were able to measure the time that the birds needed to return to the feeder after the disturbance. This measure was then used as a measure for risk-taking behaviour for further analysis.

As a next step the researchers investigated how all these factors were related to each other by means of complex statistical analyses. They first found that the great tits differed in metabolic rate, body mass, and risk-taking behaviour between both study years; in the year when birds had higher metabolic rate, they also showed higher levels of risk-taking behaviour. Additionally, within each year, birds with higher metabolic rates returned to the feeder sooner after being presented with the predator disturbance.

Amazingly, ambient temperature also had an influence on overall risk-taking behaviour; birds tended to take more risks when temperatures were lower “This study shows that variation in risk-taking behaviour is linked to differences in energy constraints. Birds facing higher energetic constraints - either because they have a higher metabolic rate or because low ambient temperatures cause them to spend more energy on thermoregulation – are more willing to forage under “risky” conditions, like when a predator has recently been observed in the area,” concludes Kimberley Mathot, first author of the study. Possibly birds with a high metabolic rate simply cannot afford to delay feeding because of their higher energetic needs, and thus are more willing to take risks.

Dr. Sabine Spehn | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.orn.mpg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>