New Science study revisits the debate over bird parents, predators, and family planning

Washington, D.C.-- What factors affect the size of bird families? Understanding the forces that drive evolutionary changes in bird behavior and life history "may help us better assess the vulnerability of different species to extinction or population problems," researcher Thomas E. Martin says of his latest study, appearing February 25 in the journal, Science.

In tropical and southern regions, female birds tend to have fewer babies per nesting attempt, compared to their more prolific counterparts in moderate, northern climates. This curious fact of bird life has fueled an ongoing debate over whether clutch sizes are limited mostly by food supply, by predators, or both.

Researcher Alexander Skutch coupled these two theories in 1949, when he suggested that predators limit the meals available to bird babies by forcing parents to limit the rate at which they visit the nest, ultimately resulting in the evolution of smaller families. After all, bird parents who fly off the nest to find food risk attracting the attention of hungry predators, from squirrels and chipmunks to other birds, explains Martin, a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biological Resources Division and a professor at the University of Montana.

Yet, Skutch's longstanding hypothesis had never been put to the test -- until now.

Martin's research team -- including Paul R. Martin, Chris R. Olson, Britt J. Heidinger, and Joseph J. Fontaine of the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at the university -- staked out forests in two different regions. Some 1,331 nests were monitored in subtropical Argentina, and then compared with 7,284 nests in Arizona.

As expected, typical clutches were much smaller in Argentina, where bird mothers produced about 2.58 eggs per nesting, versus 4.61 in Arizona. Separate analyses in each region seemed to support the Skutch theory because clutch size was, indeed, smaller for species with higher predation rates, where res

Contact: Ginger Pinholster
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Page: 1 2

Related biology news :

1. Future advances of 20,000-year-old coatings technology detailed in upcoming Science magazine
2. Sweet success on the way to vaccine for ulcers, stomach cancer, reported in Science
3. Grow-in-the-dark algae may promise dietary supplements, glowing pigments, and more, say Science authors
4. Discovery of tidal giant--a new Egyptian dinosaur--reported in Science
5. What it means to be a mammal: New clues from tiny fossil described in Science
6. Science study shows age, sex, weather, factors in fluctuating Soay Sheep population
7. Science paper suggests strategy to more effectively control harmful ozone
8. Science study explores social memory in elephants
9. Panda habitat not protected by nature reserve, say Science researchers
10. "Soft" science? Fats health impacts are often oversimplified, Science news feature contends
11. Foot-and-Mouth disease: Can research offer solutions? Science feature examines prevention and detection efforts

Post Your Comments:

(Date:7/2/2020)... ... July 02, 2020 , ... ... has announced a publication detailing the use of its revolutionary NEXTGENPCR endpoint ... reaction (RT-PCR) in 16 minutes. The article, titled "Ultra-fast one-step RT-PCR protocol ...
(Date:6/28/2020)... ... June 25, 2020 , ... ... solutions for biopharmaceutical R&D, today announced that it has entered into a ... multispecific antibodies (Multiclonics®), to support their translational and clinical research strategy to ...
(Date:6/23/2020)... ... June 23, 2020 , ... ... antibody development services, today announced that the company has received ISO9001:2015 certification ... pharmaceutical, diagnostics, and research industries. The decision to pursue ISO9001 accreditation demonstrates ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/18/2020)... ... July 16, 2020 , ... ... the early detection and prevention of high-burden diseases, and Centric Consulting, a business ... healthcare organizations to utilize existing data in order to identify and prioritize patients ...
(Date:7/10/2020)... ... July 09, 2020 , ... ... today that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has expanded the company’s exclusive ... PathSensors to move into the point-of-care diagnostic market, focusing initially on the ...
(Date:7/7/2020)... (PRWEB) , ... July 06, 2020 , ... R3 International ... program featuring up to 200 million stem cells. Depending on the patient's condition, treatment ... in the US will die having some form of Alzheimers dementia, and the incidence ...
(Date:7/1/2020)... Ohio (PRWEB) , ... June 29, 2020 , ... ... offers access to competitively procured purchasing contracts to its membership, recently named ... provide TIPS members with the opportunity to purchase ergonomic seating, cafeteria tables, book ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: