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

eral 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."


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

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