Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can gulls smell out a good partner? Study suggests kittiwakes use body odor to assess genetically compatible mates

Date:
July 7, 2011
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Male and female kittiwakes smell different from each other, according to new research. Their work also suggests that the birds' body odors might signal the genetic makeup of individual birds, and could be used in mate choice to assess the genetic compatibility of potential partners.

Kittiwake with chicks.
Credit: © Gail Johnson / Fotolia

Male and female kittiwakes smell different from each other, according to research by Sarah Leclaire from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique at the Université Paul Sabatier in France and her team. Their work also suggests that the birds' body odors might signal the genetic makeup of individual birds, and could be used in mate choice to assess the genetic compatibility of potential partners. The study is published in the July issue of Springer's journal Naturwissenschaften -- The Science of Nature.

Birds protect their feathers by preening them with the secretions of the preen gland. These secretions also carry odors. Scents in preen secretions tend to vary widely depending on the species, season and/or sex of the bird.

Leclaire and colleagues investigated the body odor in preen gland secretions and preen down feathers in a population of black-legged kittiwakes nesting in the Gulf of Alaska. Kittiwakes are a seabird species in the gull family. They collected samples of preen oil and preen down feathers from 21 females and 20 males, to test whether the birds' body odor carried individual and/or sexual signatures likely to reliably signal individual genetic makeup. These seabirds choose to mate with genetically dissimilar partners, but the cues used to assess genetic characteristics are unknown.

They found a total of 68 odor compounds, across both oil and feather samples. They also identified a difference in the amount of odor compounds between males and females, suggesting that scent may be one of the multiple cues used by birds to discriminate between sexes. The authors also detected an individual signature in preen secretions and preen down feathers; in other words they found evidence of individual-specific secretions.

Leclaire and colleagues conclude: "Our study suggests the existence of two odor signatures in kittiwakes: a sex and an individual signature. These results point to body odor as a signal associated with individual recognition and mate choice. Kittiwakes may be using body odor to assess the genetic compatibility of potential mates."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sarah Leclaire, Thomas Merkling, Christine Raynaud, Géraldine Giacinti, Jean-Marie Bessière, Scott A. Hatch, Étienne Danchin. An individual and a sex odor signature in kittiwakes? Study of the semiochemical composition of preen secretion and preen down feathers. Naturwissenschaften, 2011; 98 (7): 615 DOI: 10.1007/s00114-011-0809-9

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Can gulls smell out a good partner? Study suggests kittiwakes use body odor to assess genetically compatible mates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110706122616.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2011, July 7). Can gulls smell out a good partner? Study suggests kittiwakes use body odor to assess genetically compatible mates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110706122616.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Can gulls smell out a good partner? Study suggests kittiwakes use body odor to assess genetically compatible mates." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110706122616.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) — A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. 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