Navigation Links
Radio-tracking associated with 'dramatic shift' in water vole sex ratio

Wildlife researchers are being warned that radio-tracking could be affecting the animals they are studying. According to new research published today in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, fitting radio-collars to water voles was associated with a "dramatic shift" in the sex ratio of the animals' offspring, casting doubt on the assumption that radio-tracking does not fundamentally affect the biology of radio-collared water voles.

The water vole (Arvicola terrestris) is an endangered species in the UK, and ecologists Dr Tom Moorhouse and Professor David Macdonald of Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit had been monitoring the size of two populations - one in Norfolk and one Wiltshire - when they noticed a 48% decline in the number of females born at the Norfolk site. At both sites vole numbers had been monitored using small traps baited with apple and carrot during 2002 and 2003, voles being released after counting. However, Moorhouse and Macdonald had also fitted radio-collars to 38 of the voles caught at the Norfolk site for in-depth study of the voles' movements.

According to Moorhouse and Macdonald: "Our analysis revealed that the most likely cause for the female decline was a shift in the sex ratio of young raised by radio-collared females. This result has implications for conservation research, especially for monitoring water vole populations."

Skewed sex ratios have been reported in stressed and malnourished females of various species, including water voles. The ecologists suggest this could be explained in terms of the local resource competition hypothesis, which predicts that mothers with access to poor resources will produce offspring of the sex most likely to disperse and therefore reduce local competition for resources.

"Radio-collars clearly have the potential to cause some stress to water voles, and it is possible that this might stimulate sex-ratio adjustment as part of an evolu tionary mechanism mitigating impacts of suboptimal habitats, similar to the sex-ratio bias and stress response in food deprived water voles," they say.

Researchers have long been aware that the techniques they use had the potential to cause unexpected effects, and there have been many studies into the effects of radio-collars. However, this is the first study to show an association between radio-collars and sex ratio, although further work is needed to establish a causal link. According to Moorhouse and Macdonald: "We would expect any such effect to be species-specific, but our results will alert those studying other small mammals to look for similar associations. Our findings are a reminder that the assumption that the use of radio-collars does not fundamentally affect the biology of the subjects always requires careful checking. This study emphasises that the effects of commonplace wildlife marking and tracking techniques may be difficult to detect and yet both important and revealing. Clearly, it is both scientifically and ethically important to be aware of, and to strive to minimise, any such effects."


Source:Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Related biology news :

1. Increased risk of osteoporosis associated with gene that one in five people have
2. Signs of aging: Scientists evaluate genes associated with longevity
3. B cells are required for development of epithelial cancer associated with chronic inflammation
4. Reversal of role for a viral protein associated with the development of lymphoma
5. Researchers identify genes associated with lung transplant rejection
6. Forsyth scientists find three bacteria associated with oral cancer
7. HIV inserts into human genome using a DNA-associated protein
8. Meditation associated with structural changes in brain
9. Whole-genome study at Johns Hopkins reveals a new gene associated with abnormal heart rhythm
10. Bocavirus infection may be associated with pneumonia in Thailand, especially in children
11. Breast implants not associated with cancer risk, study reports
Post Your Comments:

(Date:6/30/2017)... Va. , June 30, 2017 ... leading developer and supplier of face and eye ... ATA Featured Product provider program. ... an innovative way to monitor a driver,s attentiveness ... greatly from being able to detect fatigue and ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... , May 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for ... has been officially launched in Genoa, Italy . The ... and the USA . The technology was ... the market by the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 ... Multimedia News Release, please click: ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... RAM Group , Singaporean based ... in biometric authentication based on a novel  ... to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are based on ... Ram Group and its partners. This sensor will have ... and security. Ram Group is a next generation ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... FirstHand program has won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand ... Excellence in Volunteer Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... SANTA CRUZ, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... SBIR grant from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single ... preparation kit for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from ... Cell Analysis Program highlights the need to accelerate development ... "New techniques for ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... Oct. 9, 2017  BioTech Holdings announced today ... which its ProCell stem cell therapy prevents limb ... The Company, demonstrated that treatment with ProCell resulted ... saved as compared to standard bone marrow stem ... resulted in reduction of therapeutic effect.  ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... line of medical marijuana products targeting the needs of consumers who are incorporating ... Kindred takes place in Phoenix, Arizona. , As operators of two successful Valley ...
Breaking Biology Technology: