Navigation Links
CU study reveals why starling females cheat

While women may cheat on men for personal reasons, superb starling females appear to stray from their mates for the sake of their chicks, according to recent Cornell research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.

The study found that superb starling females (Lamprotornis superbus) cheat on their mates for a variety of reasons. Some females mate with subordinate males from within their social group when they need help to raise their chicks. (Superb starlings are cooperative breeders, meaning breeding pairs get help in raising chicks from other family group members.) This additional male then also acquires food and tends to the nestlings, which increases the chicks' survival rates.

While females often leave the group when young, most males live their entire lives with their families and, therefore, are usually related to the chicks. By helping the chicks survive, they pass on familial genes.

In contrast, some females cheat with males outside their group if they sense their mates are too genetically similar to themselves. Mating with strangers increases their brood's genetic diversity, even though it does not reap additional help. As yet, it is unknown how females detect the genetic similarities between themselves and their mates, though other species of birds appear to adopt similar mating strategies.

"This is the first study to show that individuals from the same population mate with extra-pair males and gain both direct (like additional helpers) and indirect benefits (like better genes for the offspring), but that they do so in different contexts," said Dustin Rubenstein, a former Cornell graduate student in neurobiology and behavior and now a research associate at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and a Miller Research Fellow at the University of California-Berkeley.

Usually, if a female bird (and at times if a human female) is caught cheating, the partner punishes her by doing less work in raising the chicks, or in extreme cases, leaves her to raise the chicks on her own. But because superb starlings, a bird common to East Africa, are cooperative breeders, females have more incentive to stray, said Rubenstein, because even if she is caught cheating, she still may get help from other group members. Yet, superb starlings tend to stray much less often than other cooperative breeders, despite the dual potential benefits for females in seeking extra-pair mates.

"In most avian cooperative breeders, 40 to 60 percent of offspring are a result of extra-pair matings, but in superb starlings, only about 14 percent of the offspring are fathered by other males," said Rubenstein. No one knows why superb starling females have lower rates of cheating, but Rubenstein said it suggests that there may be less conflict between the sexes than in other species. He is currently researching this issue.

While it has long been known that males of many species cheat and mate widely to produce as many offspring as possible to spread their genes, the reasons behind female infidelity appear more complex. With this study and this species, "we can break down the reasons why superb starling females are not faithful to their mates and see that they have different extra-pair mating strategies," said Rubenstein. "It adds a whole new layer of complexity to the story."

Source:Cornell University News Service

Related biology news :

1. Bioartificial kidney under study at MCG
2. W.M. Keck Foundation funds study of friendly microbes
3. Yellowstone microbes fueled by hydrogen, according to U. of Colorado study
4. Genome-wide mouse study yields link to human leukemia
5. Clam embryo study shows pollutant mixture adversely affects nerve cell development
6. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
7. Same mutation aided evolution in many fish species, Stanford study finds
8. Sequencing of marine bacterium will help study of cell communication
9. Genetically modified rice in China benefits farmers health, study finds
10. A new study examines how shared pathogens affect host populations
11. NYU study reveals how brains immune system fights viral encephalitis

Post Your Comments:

(Date:5/12/2016)... -- , a brand of Troubadour Research ... the Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. A ... to a program where they would receive discounts for ... "We were surprised to see that so ... , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there are ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... , May 3, 2016  Neurotechnology, a ... the MegaMatcher Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) ... large-scale multi-biometric projects. MegaMatcher ABIS can process multiple ... using any combination of fingerprint, face or iris ... MegaMatcher SDK and MegaMatcher Accelerator , ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , Revenues amounted ... quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% (27) ... the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per share ... operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook   ... M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Apellis ... Phase 1 clinical trials of its complement C3 ... single and multiple ascending dose studies designed to ... (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... (SC) either as a single dose (ranging from ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Andrew ... Published recently in ... journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , ... cancer care is placing an increasing burden on ... biologic therapies. With the patents on many biologics ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, ... ... capture (EDC) software, is exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase ... DIA Annual conference. ClinCapture will also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Connecticut (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... introduce a new line of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for ... September 12–17 in Chicago. The result of a collaboration among several companies with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: