Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In Birds, Expecting To Mate Leads To Higher Fertilization Rates

Date:
October 8, 2007
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
From an evolutionary perspective, the primary task of an organism is to pass along its genes to future generations. Such genetic transmission is usually assumed to be instinctive. However, a new study shows that species also learn to adapt to their surroundings in order to increase their “reproductive fitness”-- the likelihood that they will successfully reproduce.

From an evolutionary perspective, the primary task of an organism is to pass along its genes to future generations. Such genetic transmission is usually assumed to be instinctive. However, a new study shows that species also learn to adapt to their surroundings in order to increase their “reproductive fitness”-- the likelihood that they will successfully reproduce.

One form of learning that increases reproductive fitness is Pavlovian conditioning, the ability to associate a neutral stimulus with a stimulus of significance. The classic example comes from Ivan Pavlov and his dogs that eventually salivated at just the sound of a bell, because the bell had been preciously paired with a slab of meat. However, when it comes to reproduction, does learning contribute to more offspring?

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin decided to test this in the laboratory. Nicolle Matthews and colleagues set out to examine whether learning can contribute to reproductive fitness in a particularly challenging situation -- when two males compete to fertilize the egg of a single female.

Matthews hypothesized that if two males mate with the same female compete to fertilize her eggs, paternity will favor the male that received a signal or conditioned stimulus before the mating session.

Using quail, Matthews put the males into two chambers for thirty minutes; they repeated this for five days. One chamber was green and was located on the floor near a noisy room and the other chamber was white, had a tilted floor, and was located in an isolated room on a table. Whenever the quails were in one of the two chambers, they were allowed access to a female. Thus, the quail learned to anticipate a chance to copulate whenever they were placed in this chamber but not when they were in the other.

On the test day, each female was allowed to copulate with two males. One of the males was in the chamber where he expected to receive access to a female and the other male was in a chamber where he did not expect a female. Using genetic markers, the researchers then collected the eggs of the female quail and tested the paternity.

The results, which appear in the September issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, are clear: The males who were placed in the context that led them to anticipate access to a female just before copulation fertilized seventy-two percent of the eggs laid by the female quail. In other words, the quail who knew they were going to have the opportunity to mate produced more offspring. This is a significant finding because typically when two males mate in quick succession with the same female, no differences in paternity are found, which Matthews confirmed in a follow-up experiment.

The researchers point out that the conditioning most likely had an effect on the rate of sperm release without changing sperm quality or concentration. “Learning and individual experience can bias genetic transmission and the evolutionary changes that result from sexual competition,” write the authors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "In Birds, Expecting To Mate Leads To Higher Fertilization Rates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071004101026.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2007, October 8). In Birds, Expecting To Mate Leads To Higher Fertilization Rates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071004101026.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "In Birds, Expecting To Mate Leads To Higher Fertilization Rates." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071004101026.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins