Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nature versus nurture: Better looking birds have healthier babies, study finds

Date:
March 25, 2013
Source:
BioMed Central Limited
Summary:
A female great tits' (Parus major) appearance is shown to signal healthy attributes in offspring in a new paper. The black stripe across her breast and white patches on her cheeks correlate to a chick’s weight at two weeks and immune strength respectively -- though the former seems to signal a genetic benefit and the latter can affect an ‘adopted’ chick’s health, suggesting nurture is involved.

Great tits.
Credit: © Javier Castro / Fotolia

A female great tits' (Parus major) appearance is shown to signal healthy attributes in offspring in a paper in BioMed Central's open access journal Frontiers in Zoology. The black stripe across her breast and white patches on her cheeks correlate to a chick's weight at two weeks and immune strength respectively -- though the former seems to signal a genetic benefit and the latter can affect an 'adopted' chick's health, suggesting nurture is involved.

Taking two mothers with different patterning, and swapping their chicks, researchers from Palacky University in the Czech Republic were able to investigate the growth and health of the infants and the 'ornamentation' of their mothers. They compared the offspring's weight, size and immune strength and found a correlation between the chick's weight at two weeks and the size of black breast stripe on the genetic mother.

The immaculateness of both genetic and foster mother's white cheek patch was related to the strength of chick's immune response suggesting that this was due to both nurture and genetics. In contrast the body size of a chick was related only to the body size of its genetic mother and not to ornamentation at all.

In these socially monogamous birds both the males and females are brightly coloured, however neither the cheek patch nor the stripe in males affected the health of the babies.

Talking about how the ornaments can have evolved to signal reproductive fitness, Vladimír Remeš and Beata Matysioková who performed this study explained, "Bigger healthier babies are important to the reproductive success of individuals, because they are more likely to survive to adulthood -- so it is useful for birds to be able to work out which potential mates will produce the best babies. Maintaining bright colouration uses up resources which could otherwise be invested in reproduction or self-maintenance -- consequently the evolution and maintenance of ornamentation in female great tits is probably due to direct selection by males."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Vladimír Remeš and Beata Matysioková. More ornamented females produce higher-quality offspring in a socially monogamous bird: an experimental study in the great tit (Parus major). Frontiers in Zoology, 2013; (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central Limited. "Nature versus nurture: Better looking birds have healthier babies, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130324201814.htm>.
BioMed Central Limited. (2013, March 25). Nature versus nurture: Better looking birds have healthier babies, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130324201814.htm
BioMed Central Limited. "Nature versus nurture: Better looking birds have healthier babies, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130324201814.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. 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