Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wild animals age, too: Researchers study senescence in blue-footed booby shows

Date:
May 10, 2011
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Many might assume that wild animals generally die before they get old. Now, a Spanish-Mexican research team has demonstrated aging in a population of wild birds (Sula nebouxii) in terms of their ability to live and reproduce.

A pair of blue-footed boobies (Sula nebouxii) during courtship in the Isla Isabel (Mexico).
Credit: Alberto Velando

Many might assume that wild animals generally die before they get old. Now, a Spanish-Mexican research team has for the first time demonstrated aging in a population of wild birds (Sula nebouxii) in terms of their ability to live and reproduce.

"It was always thought that senescence was something particular to humans and domestic animals, because we have an extended life expectancy," says Alberto Velando, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Ecology and Animal Biology Department of the University of Vigo.

However, the idea that wild animals are killed off by predators or parasites before showing signs of aging has changed "totally" in recent years: "Senescence exists in wild animals' reproduction and living capacity," confirms Velando.

The study, which has been published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, used a database stretching back over 30 years to study a population of the blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii), long-lived birds that inhabit the Pacific coasts of Mexico, the Galapagos Islands and Peru, to determine their aging patterns.

The results show for the first time that their germline (the DNA sequence passed from one generation to the next) is not damage-free. "The DNA of the sperm of older individuals is damaged. This means their offspring have a greater likelihood of suffering from congenital illnesses," the biologist explains.

Foot colour is key to deterioration

In humans, it has already been shown recently that the children of men aged over 50 or 60 are more likely to suffer from genetic illnesses. "It was thought that this was of no importance in nature, and that it was a defect of our civilisation, since we live longer than a natural lifespan. However, it turns out that this happens in nature too," says Velando.

The colour of these birds' feet changes with age, mirroring the oxidative damage suffered by their sperm. According to the expert, females choose males on the basis of colour, and are less attracted to older males with more faded feet, which prevents their offspring from being affected by genetic mutations.

The study confirms that, in general, middle-aged males have a less deteriorated germline and more colourful feet. Velando says this study helps to shed light on selection patterns, and the evolutionary and growth patterns of populations.

"The study provides us with a new way of looking at what lies behind sexual signals, pointing to the importance of sexual selection in eliminating genetic mutations," the scientist concludes.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Velando, J. C. Noguera, H. Drummond, R. Torres. Senescent males carry premutagenic lesions in sperm. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2011; 24 (3): 693 DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02201.x

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Wild animals age, too: Researchers study senescence in blue-footed booby shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110510074631.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2011, May 10). Wild animals age, too: Researchers study senescence in blue-footed booby shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110510074631.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Wild animals age, too: Researchers study senescence in blue-footed booby shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110510074631.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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