curiosity) of the birds. This is first shown in two breeding lines of great tits, which the researchers had selected over four generations according to their level of curiosity (a low and a high curiosity line). The scientists assessed the curiosity of the birds in a test which shows similarities to the traditional "open-field" test used by psychologists. They tested the exploratory behaviour of each bird soon after it left the nest (Early Exploratory Behaviour, EEB), as follows. In one behavioural test, the biologists measured the time until a bird had visited four artificial "trees" (see figure 1) after being released in the observation room. In a second test, they quantified the reaction of the bird towards each of two unknown objects that had been put in its cage. One such novel object was a pink panther (see figure 2).
The results from the group of selected birds were confirmed with data from free-living, unselected great tits. In the forest-living birds, the scientists also found a significant association between the SNP830-genotypes of individuals and variation in their level of curiosity.
"The personality trait can be an important predictor of how individuals will respond to predictable and unpredictable changes in their environment and how well they cope with these changes", explains Bart Kempenaers. "If we want to understand the ecological and evolutionary importance of variation in personality in natural, free-living animal populations, it would help a lot to know the molecular genetic mechanisms behind the trait." Typing the behavioural relevant Drd4 polymorphism it should be possible to follow micro-evolutionary changes in populations, which would result from changing selection pressures on different personality types.
Page: 1 2 Related biology news :1
Contact: Dr. Bart Kempenaers
. Altering a protein makes mice less fearful2
. Carnegie Mellon scientists find key HIV protein makes cell membranes bend more easily3
. Book makes case for using evolution in everyday life4
. Dartmouth professor makes case for ethically universal stem cell lines5
. A nurse makes the decision on who will live6
. NASA-funded robotic sub makes final dive to reach bottom of Earths deepest sinkhole7
. Scientists unlock secret of what makes plants flower8
. Third primate genome, the rhesus macaque, helps illuminate what makes us human9
. Researchers figure out what makes a simple biological clock tick10
. Natural polyester makes new sutures stronger, safer11
. Male-killing bacteria makes female butterflies more promiscuous