Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turtle Doves Commit Adultery

Date:
October 22, 2008
Source:
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Summary:
A biologist has shown that bastard doves can fend for themselves. Despite having a strange coo, hybrid offspring are still able to defend their territory. This is necessary for further reproduction.

Turtle dove. Doves are certainly not monogamous. A hen will stray from the nest. She may mate with a bachelor dove and then bring up the baby doves with her faithful male back at the nest.
Credit: iStockphoto/Robert Mansker

Dutch biologist Paula den Hartog has shown that bastard doves can fend for themselves. Despite having a strange coo, hybrid offspring are still able to defend their territory. This is necessary for further reproduction.

How species are formed and how species remain separate are crucial questions in evolutionary biology. The offspring of crosses between different animal species are often infertile or die when still in the womb. A mule, for example, cannot reproduce. A sheep-goat hybrid, the result of a cross between a sheep and a goat, is usually stillborn. Such hybrids can also be dysfunctional, for example, because the sounds they make are a mixture of sounds from both parent species.

Remarkably, the offspring resulting from a cross between the ring-necked dove and the vinaceous dove, the two species studied by Den Hartog, are able to function and reproduce. Although the hybrid doves make a different sound to their parents, this sound is still functional.

By coincidence, biologists discovered the existence of a hybrid dove alongside the ring-necked dove and the vinaceous dove in a region of Uganda. The DNA of the hybrid dove has genes from both parental species. In order to mate, a male dove must defend his territory and attract females. This is why he coos. The coos of the ring-necked dove and the vinaceous dove are different and the hybrids have their own coo as well.

Action, reaction

Den Hartog investigated the role of cooing in the process of species formation and hybridisation. She wanted to do this by determining the degree to which male doves of different species react to the coos of their own species, to those of the other species and to the coos of the hybrids. To this end she recorded the coos of the different species of males (for examples see fragments below) and subsequently played these recordings in the wild.

The researcher placed loudspeakers in the territory of a male dove to measure the response of the dove to other doves’ coos. On hearing a male from his own species cooing in his territory, a male dove will usually approach the intruder and attempt to chase him away, cooing as he does so. This sometimes leads to fights. The male does this to defend his territory; a male dove cannot reproduce unless he has his own territory. However, a male dove can only chase off intruders from his territory if the intruders can ‘understand’ his coo and recognise the threatening message. Vice versa, the male dove must also be able to recognise the intruders’ coos to understand that they are possible rivals. A strange coo can therefore hinder a successful sex life.

As soon as the male doves in the study recognised a coo and noticed the loudspeakers, they started an attack. They recognised the coo as being the coo of a rival.

Hybrids are not choosy

Den Hartog found that the response of the hybrid males to the coos of the hybrid doves was the same as their response to the ring-necked and vinaceous doves. In the populations of ring-necked doves, the males reacted the most to the ring-necked coos, then to the hybrid coo and the least to the coo of the vinaceous dove. The responses of the vinaceous doves were similar. In the area occupied by the hybrid doves, the hybrid coo is just as effective as the coos of both parental species. In addition, the coos of the hybrid males can sound unique but also sound like the coo of one of the parental species. In the latter case it may be possible for them also to hold their own within a population of that parental species.

Den Hartog suspects that it is possible for the hybrid species to continue to survive and multiply. They can do this because the hybrid coos seem to work well in obtaining a territory. There is also quite a lot of variation in the hybrid coos. It would therefore appear that hybrid animals are not always weaker than their parental species.

Hens are more choosy

The role of female doves, or hens, is just as important. Their job is to select the most suitable male. The hens do not always stick to their own species. They can even have a preference for ‘strange’ males. And doves are certainly not monogamous. A hen will also stray from the nest. She may mate with a bachelor dove and then bring up the baby doves with her faithful male back at the nest.

Paula den Hartog could carry out her research using grants from the NWO division WOTRO Science for Global Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. "Turtle Doves Commit Adultery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015100033.htm>.
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. (2008, October 22). Turtle Doves Commit Adultery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015100033.htm
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. "Turtle Doves Commit Adultery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015100033.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) 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