Navigation Links
Mother's little helpers
Date:8/16/2007

An Australian bird has been found to produce smaller, less nourishing eggs when it breeds in the presence of other helper birds that provide child-care assistance. This unique adaptation enables the birds to live longer and breed more often than females without helpers. The research, led by a University of Cambridge academic, today made the front cover of Science.

In many animal species, parents caring for their offspring are assisted by so-called helpers, adults that forego reproduction to help others raise young. Although parents decrease the amount of food they provide to offspring when helpers are present, the additional supply provided by the helpers more than compensates for this reduction. As a result, chicks fed by parents and helpers tend to receive more than those raised without helpers.

However, research has shown that these offspring who receive additional food do not appear to gain any advantage as a result. This has raised the question of who really gains from helping behaviour a question that has baffled scientists until now. Research reported today on a common Australian bird species has provided a novel answer.

Researchers have discovered that in the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus), mothers benefit more from helping behaviour than their offspring. As helpers provide chicks with a significant amount of additional food, mothers can afford to skimp on nourishing their eggs. Females that are assisted by helpers were found to lay smaller eggs with disproportionately smaller yolks, thereby saving energy during egg laying. As a result, they live longer and breed more often than females with no helpers.

The scientists predict that this phenomenon occurs in other cooperative breeding bird species.

Helper birds offer mothers a form of child-care, says Dr Rebecca Kilner from the University of Cambridges Department of Zoology, one of the leaders of the research team that made this discovery. In this species, mothers effectively steal the child-care from their current brood and spend this energy on producing more young in the future.

Superb fairy-wrens sometimes breed as pairs, and sometimes as pairs assisted by between one and four helpers. Helpers are always male and often sons from previous breeding. Females are drab brown in colour, but males moult into a striking blue plumage to breed, hence the species superlative name.


'/>"/>

Contact: Genevieve Maul
genevieve.maul@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-012-233-32300
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Antiretroviral Therapy May Prevent HIV Transmission From Breastfeeding Mothers To Infants
2. Ultrasounds show mothers drinking shrinks fetal brain
3. Hyena mothers give their cubs a helpful dose of hormones
4. A little stress gives beneficial oomph! to immune system
5. Too much water may be as dangerous as too little during long-distance athletic events
6. Study uncovers dirty little secret: Soil emissions are much-bigger-than-expected component of air pollution
7. A little telomerase isnt enough
8. Earliest European Farmers Left Little Genetic Mark On Modern Europe
9. Little known DNA repair enzyme may be a tumor suppressor gene
10. Even a little cooling helps after cardiac arrest
11. Marathon mice elucidate little-known muscle type
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/29/2017)... the health IT company that operates the largest health ... today announced a Series B investment from BlueCross BlueShield ... investment and acquisition accelerates higi,s strategy to create the ... activities through the collection and workflow integration of ambient ... secures data today on behalf of over 36 million ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric Vehicle ... around 15.1% over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 million ... estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global as ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Optimove , provider of the ... as 1-800-Flowers and AdoreMe, today announced two new ... Using Optimove,s machine learning algorithms, these features allow ... recommendations to their customers based not just on ... intent drawn from a complex web of data ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... 16, 2017 , ... Recent studies show that cancer cells ... specific cancers, such as breast, prostate, or lung, target vital pathways active in ... advanced prostate cancer. , This therapy limits the production and effectiveness of ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... 16, 2017  This year,s edition of the Inc. 5000 features a ... workforce solutions, has made the list for the third year in a ... fastest-growing private companies based on a set of quantitative metrics. In addition, ... fastest-growing companies in the Bay State . ... Inc. 5000 ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... CA (PRWEB) , ... August 15, 2017 , ... ... pioneering graphene biosensors that accelerate pharmaceutical and biotherapeutics development, announces the launch of ... number of steps needed to gain kinetic binding data for a wide range ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... August 15, 2017 , ... The Conference Forum and The ... through a series of upcoming panels and events. The partnership culminates with the ... Hotel in New York City. , “With our experience in producing the Immuno-Oncology 360° ...
Breaking Biology Technology: