Navigation Links
Bird-brained? Birds' personalities are correlated with their hormone levels

The Great Tit is a common garden bird of many countries in Europe and Asia. Great Tits are generally thought of as fairly inquisitive but it has long been known individuals vary considerably in their willingness to explore new surroundings. Some birds known as "fast" or "proactive" are quick explorers and are comparatively aggressive, whereas "slow" or "reactive" birds are more cautious. The differences are at least in part genetically determined and as a result scientists in Holland, with whom the Vienna group has been collaborating closely, have been able to use this behavioural trait as a basis for selecting lines over several generations.

Stwe measured the breakdown products of glucocorticoid hormones in the droppings of great tit nestlings of both "fast" and "slow" lines. She found that slow nestlings excreted more glucocorticoids than "fast" ones. She also notived that subjecting nestlings to stress caused an increase in the amounts of glucocorticoids they excreted. The rise was far more dramatic in fast nestlings than in slow ones, showing that the more proactive birds respond more intensely to stress than less curious individuals.

Stwe's results indicate for the first time that birds that have been genetically selected on the basis of their levels of curiosity show pronounced differences both in their baseline levels of stress hormones and in their reactions to stress. Interestingly, these factors are known to be important indicators of the young birds' future survival and the novel findings would suggest that the "fast" birds might have certain advantages over slower individuals. Clearly, however, environmental factors are also important in determining survival and there must be circumstances that favour less inquisitive birds: when a large number of predators are around, fortune may no longer favour the bold. Variation in the behaviour of the "bird-brained" Great Tit is presumably important in helping the species cope with a range of different conditions.

Because higher glucocorticoids are thought to be associated with more intense begging activity, Stwe also examined the begging behaviour of the "fast" and "slow" nestlings. She found no differences between the lines but did observe an interesting difference between the sexes, with male nestlings begging significantly more often than females. Intriguingly, the difference disappeared when the birds were stressed. As Stwe says, "male nestlings beg more to ensure they obtain enough food to meet their higher nutritional needs. But when they are frightened they are much less forward and actually behave just like female nestlings."


Contact: Dr Mareike Stoewe
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna

Related biology news :

1. Captain Birdseyes robotic nose
2. Beavers: Dam good for songbirds
3. Genetic evidence for avian influenza movement from Asia to North America via wild birds
4. Practice as well as sleep may help birds learn new songs
5. The birds of Spain, in a digital ornithological encyclopedia
6. Shade coffee benefits more than birds
7. Birds in Flint Hills of Kansas, Oklahoma face population decline despite large habitat
8. Climate change affecting Europes birds now, say researchers
9. Female birds jam their mates flirtatious songs
10. Its for the birds
11. CCNY, CSHL biologists find birdsong of isolates reverts to norm over several generations
Post Your Comments:
(Date:3/23/2016)... 2016 Einzigartige ... und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern     ... MESG ), ein führender Anbieter digitaler Kommunikationsdienste, ... SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals dessen Biometrietechnologie einzusetzen. ... Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen mobiler Apps neben ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... and SANDY, Utah , March ... operates the highest sample volume laboratory in ... and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing informatics and molecular ... of a project to establish the informatics infrastructure for ... NSO has been contracted by the Ontario Ministry ...
(Date:3/18/2016)... LONDON , March 18, 2016 ... Established Suppliers of Biometrics, ICT, Manned & Unmanned Vehicles, Physical ... & security companies in the border security market and ... and Europe has led ... your companies improved success. --> defence & ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... Amgen, will join the faculty of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler ... of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the school’s ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... discussions on a range of subjects including policies, debt and ... Poloz. Speaking at a lecture to the Canadian ... to the country,s inflation target, which is set by both ... "In certain areas there needs to be ... why not sit down and address strategy together?" ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona combed medical journal articles ... findings are the subject of a new article on the Surviving Mesothelioma website. ... blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can help point doctors to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston ... of novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness ... has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the ... treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) ... inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by ...
Breaking Biology Technology: