Navigation Links
Child abuse in birds: Study documents 'cycle of violence' in nature
Date:10/3/2011

For one species of seabird in the Galpagos, the child abuse "cycle of violence" found in humans plays out in the wild.

The new study of Nazca boobies by Wake Forest University researchers provides the first evidence from the animal world showing those who are abused when they are young often grow up to be abusers. The study appears in the October issue of the ornithology journal, The Auk.

"We were surprised by the intense interest that many adults show in unrelated young, involving really rough treatment," said Wake Forest Professor of Biology Dave Anderson, who led the study with Wake Forest graduate student Martina Mller. "A bird's history as a target of abuse proved to be a strong predictor of its adult behavior."

In Nazca boobies, traumatic abuse of developing young significantly increases the chances those maltreated individuals will exhibit the same maltreatment later in life as adults, Mller said. She is now at the University of Groeningen in the Netherlands.

The ocean-going seabirds live in colonies in the Galpagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. Among Nazca boobies, victimization by adults on other birds' chicks is widespread. They raise solitary nestlings on the ground and frequently leave their offspring unattended while foraging at sea. So, there is much opportunity for adult birds to bully and beat up neighbor nestlings.

The abusive adults patrol the breeding colony, searching for unguarded chicks. They frequently bite and peck the chicks, and even make sexual advances, sometimes leaving the chicks bleeding and stressed. Female adults show more aggressive behavior than males do, on average.

The young birds nest years later in the colony where they were born, making them ideal models for studying the effects of "chick" abuse on lifelong behavior.

The researchers collected data during three breeding seasons documenting which nestlings suffered abuse or neglect, then several years later evaluated their behavior as adults in the same colony. They tracked the birds and identified them using leg bands.

The findings shed important light on animal behavior. "This is not some contrived experimental situation with freaked out captive animals. This is an animal in a natural situation experiencing natural stressors when young. And, the outcome is their behavior later is influenced by the social stress they experienced," Anderson said. "As we determine how similar the physiology of this response is to the human situation, we may find opportunities for research on this stress response that are not possible to do with humans."

Co-authors on the study included Wake Forest graduate students Elaine T. Porter, Jacquelyn K. Grace, Jill A. Awkerman, and Mark A. Westbrock and technicians Kevin T. Birchler, Alex R. Gunderson, and Eric G. Schneider.

The Wake Forest team of researchers is already exploring physiological responses to abuse and have found a dramatic increase in corticosterone, the primary avian stress hormone, after a chick has experienced abuse. The surge in stress hormone may influence adult bird behavior. The study, led by doctoral student Jacquelyn Grace, was published recently in the journal, Hormones and Behavior.

"It's fascinating that what many would consider an extremely complex human phenomenon is also occurring - perhaps through the same physiological mechanism in Nazca boobies, which are more closely related to crocodiles than mammals," Grace said. "Both studies suggest Nazca boobies might be a good model system to begin understanding the mechanisms underlying the cycle of violence in humans."


'/>"/>

Contact: Cheryl Walker
walkercv@wfu.edu
336-758-6073
Wake Forest University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Vanderbilt ethicist to study return of results issue involving children in genomics studies
2. Children with autism benefit from early, intensive therapy
3. Parents feel shock, anxiety and the need to protect children with genital ambiguity
4. Foreign children take at least 6 years to learn the language used in school
5. Stress drives alcoholics children to drink
6. Study finds an increase of children accidentally poisoned with pharmaceuticals
7. Innovating to improve women and childrens health
8. Developing technologies to improve the treatment of craniosynostosis in children
9. Stressed dad = depressed children? Investigating the paternal transmission of stress
10. Parents stress leaves lasting marks on children’s genes: UBC-CFRI research
11. Vitamin C may be beneficial for asthmatic children
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Child abuse in birds: Study documents 'cycle of violence' in nature
(Date:4/15/2016)...  A new partnership announced today will help ... in a fraction of the time it takes ... life insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient ... Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and ... weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... 14, 2016 BioCatch ™, ... today announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger ... Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a time ... the deployment of its platform at several of the ... which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is a ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... 2016   LegacyXChange, ... "Company") LegacyXChange is excited to release its ... to be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed ... will also provide potential shareholders a sense of the ... an industry that is notorious for fraud. The video ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... NYC , the sensor and data driven conferences, will take place on June 7-8, 2016, at ... UnitedHealth's Vidya Raman-Tangella on incorporating technology -- including AR/VR, machine learning, apps, robotics ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... and IVF laboratories. A contingency of reproductive endocrinologists, including Dr. George Hill ... experiencing infertility and to help them build families. , Ovation Fertility is a ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... May 02, 2016 , ... ... the pre-launch success of their revolutionary, veterinarian-designed product for indoor cats. The NoBowl ... and play with their food the way nature intended. NoBowls make cats happy ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... , April 29, 2016 ... by Transparency Market Research "Separation Systems for Commercial ... Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2015 - 2023", the ... at US$ 10,665.5 Mn in 2014 and is ... from 2015 to 2023 to reach US$ 19,227.8 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: