This news release is available in German.
Be it hibernation or the routes of migratory birds: all animal behaviour that is subject to annual rhythms is controlled by a molecular clock. Although this has been known for a long time, in many cases it is still unclear how far genes are involved in setting this internal clock. Up to now, this also applied to the common buzzard and its migration from parental breeding grounds. Behavioural scientists in Professor Dr. Oliver Krger's team at Bielefeld University's Faculty of Biology have now confirmed that a genetic clock determines when young buzzards leave their parents' territory. The key to these findings were observations from the general public who reported tagged birds to the researchers. The researchers have now published their study in the journal Molecular Ecology.
'There's a buzzard flying there with a label on its wing.' Krger and his colleagues often get phone calls with messages like this. 'However, we are not interested in the tags as such, but the codes that are written on them,' says Krger. 'They are the identity card that our research group gives to every buzzard in the Bielefeld region.' With the help of this code, the behavioural scientists can trace the migrations of individual birds.
Krger's colleague Nayden Chakarov has been wing tagging and ringing buzzards for years as part of his doctoral thesis. The procedure is no problem for the birds, he explains: 'The wing tags don't interfere with flying and the buzzards are already tagged as chicks.' He and his colleagues climb up to buzzard nests not only to tag the young birds but also to take blood from them. This means that a genetic sample is available for every young bird that is ringed. If someone spots the bird later and reports the code on
|Contact: Nayden Chakarov|
University of Bielefeld