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!
Nanotubes built from protein crystals: Breakthrough in biomolecular engineering
15.11.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
Insect Antibiotic Provides New Way to Eliminate Bacteria
15.11.2018 | Universität Zürich
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
15.11.2018 | Earth Sciences
15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy