Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In Horse Play, Adult-to-young Ratio Is Key

Date:
March 24, 2009
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Adults of many animal species play a crucial role in the social development of youngsters. A new study reveals that the ratio of adults to young plays a much more important role in social development than the mere presence of adults.

Two young horses play fighting.
Credit: iStockphoto/Ruth Ann Johnston

Adults of many animal species play a crucial role in the social development of youngsters. A new study reveals that the ratio of adults to young plays a much more important role in social development than the mere presence of adults.

Marie Bourjade, Alice de Boyer des Roches and Martine Hausberger of the University of Rennes 1, France, studied the effects of the adult-young ratios in naturally-formed groups of Przewalski horses on aggression rates and social cohesion of young horses. Previous studies led by the laboratory have shown that this ratio plays an essential role in song acquisition in songbirds (which has parallels with human language development) and so the authors sought to find a more general principle regarding the effects of adult-young ratios on social behaviour.

Bourjade and colleagues explained, "Przewalski horses constitute a very adequate model for investigating the educational roles of experienced adults as the species forms year-round stable groups with both maternal and paternal carers as well as the presence of unrelated adult females."

The results revealed striking differences, depending on the adult-young ratios. "When in a group in which adult-young ratios were low, young horses were more aggressive and more segregated from adults and they established tighter bonds with other young," the scientists remarked. "Tighter bonds between young in groups with low proportions of adults could be a factor which decreases the attention paid to adults and probably reduces their influence as regulators of the behaviour of young, in particular their aggressive behaviour."

Beyond fundamental questions raised by these findings about modalities of the influence of adults on the development of youngsters, the authors argue that, "adult-young ratios appear to be an important feature of social settings that must be taken into account as a potential modulator of social influence when evaluating developmental processes."

Selective attention towards social partners may enhance or inhibit the influence of adults. This study, which builds upon previous results regarding vocal development, suggests there is basis for a very general phenomenon with important implications for the social settings of captive and domestic animals. It may even lead us to question the best social environment for childcare and education.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Giurfa et al. Adult-Young Ratio, a Major Factor Regulating Social Behaviour of Young: A Horse Study. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (3): e4888 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004888

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "In Horse Play, Adult-to-young Ratio Is Key." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317215310.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2009, March 24). In Horse Play, Adult-to-young Ratio Is Key. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317215310.htm
Public Library of Science. "In Horse Play, Adult-to-young Ratio Is Key." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317215310.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
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