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 August 29, 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 August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. 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