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 NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

nachricht Pollen taxi for bacteria
18.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>