Navigation Links
Biological clock ticks slower for female birds who choose good mates
Date:1/19/2011

In birds as in humans, female fertility declines with age.

But some female birds can slow the ticking of their biological clocks by choosing the right mates, according to results of a study published online last week in the journal Oikos.

Female birds become progressively less fertile as age takes its toll, says biologist Josh Auld of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina, and co-author of the Oikos paper.

Older females lay fewer eggs, and they lay them later in the season--at a time when less food is available for their chicks.

But despite abundant evidence of fading fertility in females, scientists knew little about the role played by their mates. "The thought was that males didn't matter," Auld says.

But they do.

"These results are very unexpected, and one cannot help but wonder if they apply to vertebrates more generally," says Saran Twombly, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

"The work highlights the power of data synthesis to reveal patterns that arise only by combining lots of data to address new questions," says Twombly.

"It also emphasizes the need to integrate physiology, behavior, and other biological disciplines to understand what organisms do and how they interact in the wild."

To find out if males factor into female fertility, biologists took advantage of long-term data collected on birds known as blue tits.

Since the late 1970s, scientists have studied thousands of these blue-and-yellow forest birds on the French island of Corsica.

Blue tits breed once a year, often with a different mate each time.

By attaching identification bands to the birds' ankles and monitoring their nests, scientists were able to keep track of who mated with whom, how many eggs they laid and when, and how the fledglings fared over time.

When the authors analyzed data for nearly 600 females and 600 males from 1979 to 2007, they found a surprise: how fast a female's fertility fades depends partly on her partners.

The important thing for females is not the age or identity of her mates, but her partners' paternal past.

"The 'history' of the male matters," says paper co-author Anne Charmantier of France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

Fertility declined less quickly for females whose mates became first-time fathers young.

"Females that repeatedly pair with early-reproducing males are better off," says Auld. "They don't age as fast."

Males who got a head start on fatherhood--within their first year of life--may be healthier or more experienced mates than dads that delayed breeding.

"Males that start breeding early may be in better condition, or have a lower parasite load," Charmantier says.

Healthier or more experienced males may also be better partners in parenting, such that time takes less of a toll on mom.

"The male helps the female build the nest, and he brings her food while she's laying and incubating the eggs," says Auld. "He also helps care for the hatchlings."

Surprisingly, males play a role in how fast females pass their prime.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study carried out into biological risks of eating reptiles
2. Biological clock could be a key to better health, longer life
3. New method to grow arteries could lead to biological bypass for heart disease
4. U of T researchers crack splicing code, solve a mystery underlying biological complexity
5. Adolescent brains biologically wired to engage in risky behavior, study finds
6. Length of biological marker associated with risk of cancer
7. Ticking biological clock increases womens libido, new research shows
8. Researchers uncover biological rationale for why intensive lupus treatment works
9. Multifunctional nanoparticle enables new type of biological imaging
10. Biological changes in suicidal patients
11. University of Utah and Harvard researchers take major step toward first biological test for autism
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... TopConsumerReviews.com recently awarded their highest five-star rating to Best ... individuals in the United States and Canada wear eyeglasses. Once considered to be a ... and make a fashion statement. Even celebrities use glasses as a way of creating ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to develop a weight ... app plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry today:, ... program , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit their exercise program ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture ... said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package ... Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and drag it ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Montreal, Canada (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... the pursuit of success. In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high ... low, risk more than just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Pulmonary Hypertension Association ... it will receive two significant new grants to support its work to advance ... 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists for their work in ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the ... Tests" report to their offering. ... The World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers the ... analysis in the report includes the following: ... Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 , ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Belgium , June 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the appointment of Dr. Edward Futcher ... a Non-Executive Director, effective June 23, 2016.Dr. Futcher ... and Nominations and Governance Committees.  As a non-executive ... provide independent expertise and strategic counsel to VolitionRx ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Research ... Devices Global Market - Forecast to 2022" report to ... the treatment method for the patients with kidney failure, it ... excess fluid from the patient,s blood and thus the treatment ... potassium and chloride in balance. Increasing number ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: