Navigation Links
Attractive birds more immune against bird flu

A research team at Uppsala University, Sweden has shown in a new study, published in the journal Acta Zoologica, that the size of the spot on a male collared flycatcher's forehead reflects how well the immune defence system combats viruses such as avian influenza. The white spot is also attractive to female birds searching for a mate.

Evolutionary biologists have long attempted to explain why individuals of a species differ in appearance and why the choice of a mate is influenced by behaviour and appearance features that cannot reasonably be thought to have any usefulness. Therefore, they have begun to look more and more at the genetics behind what are called secondary sexual characters, such as the tail of a peacock, the stripes of the female gulf pipefish, and the white spot on the forehead of the collared flycatcher. In many species both males and females prefer to mate with those who have the largest or most colourful of these ornaments or who have the most complex song, for instance.

One theory says that the ornaments are clearest on individuals that are in good health and that both the size and the condition of the ornament are heritable. This leads to the question of why evolution did not select the same appearance and good health for all individuals. Is there something in the environment that is constantly changing and can govern the genetics of appearance and health, leading, instead, to diversity?

"More and more evidence indicates that the most changeable part of the environment consists of parasites, bacteria and viruses. All of these, especially viruses, evolve more rapidly than the hosts whose resources they live off of. The host will therefore always be in an important evolutionary race against its diseases," explains Måns Andersson, who directs the research team.

In earlier studies, Andersson and Professor Lars Gustafsson have shown that male Gotlandian collared flycatchers with few dangerous blood parasites have large r forehead spots. The new study shows that males that are vaccinated against Newcastle virus produce more antibodies if they have large forehead spots.

"Thus it seems that the female uses the forehead spot as a health indicator. When she chooses males with a large forehead spots, she takes not only the healthiest males but also the ones with the best immune defence against future virus infections."

The study also shows that the male collared flycatcher can change the size of the forehead spot during the mating season and that males that unfurl their forehead spots most are those that produce the most antibodies.

The findings not only enhance our understanding of why animals behave and look the way they do but also help explain why animals that choose their own mates produce healthier offspring than animals whose mates are selected by humans.


Source:Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Related biology news :

1. Migratory songbirds have a specialized night-vision brain area
2. The lopsided brain: Attention bias is shared by humans and birds
3. Bobbing birds do it for a reason
4. Mother birds increase progesterone to hatch females
5. Overbearing colored light may reveal a second mechanism by which birds interpret magnetic signals
6. Industrial contaminants spread by seabirds in High Arctic, new Canadian study shows
7. Displaced songbirds navigate in the high Arctic
8. Oil spills and climate change double the mortality rate of British seabirds
9. Wild birds help to create human flu vaccine
10. Uniquely human component of language found in gregarious birds
11. Not just the birds
Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/27/2015)... Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ... that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ClearPad ... to power its newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus 5X ... --> --> Synaptics ... provide strategic collaboration in the joint development of next ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... LAS VEGAS , Oct. 26, 2015 ... an innovator in modern authentication and a founding member ... launch of its latest version of the Nok Nok™ ... to use standards-based authentication that supports existing and emerging ... Suite is ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing applications that ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has ... Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... global voice recognition biometrics market to grow at a ... --> --> The report, Global Voice ... an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds the third-largest ... market. The trend of outsourcing to low-cost locations ... higher volume share for the region in the ... margins in the CRO industry will improve. ... ( ), finds that the market earned ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Copper is an essential ... bound to proteins, copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million ... (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP and AdVenture ... develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in their schools. ... to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip to Super ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna ... announced today that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation ... Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject to ... exercised on November 23, 2015, which will result ... After giving effect to the issuance of such ...
Breaking Biology Technology: