Friday, October 13, 2006

And You Thought Your Family Had Issues

Have you ever thought your parent(s) favor you brother/ sister over you? It may surprise many to find out that human families are not the only families with issues. Just like humans, birds fight over parental duties and even favor certain offspring over others. A study done by Tudor Draganoi, a post doctoral researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, shows some bird pairs split up and even divide offspring between the mother and father.

This study observed black redstarts, Phoenicurus ochruros, in the small mountain village of La Valla sur Rochefort, France. The study found that these birds would sometimes split up because of conflicts; many times one of the birds would abandon some of the young. The divorced birds would split up, and take with them the favorable offspring.

The study also concluded that parents responded more to the calls of the babies which they doted on. The parents prefer certain offspring over others. The factors are not known as to why the parents prefer certain young over others. Size and sex do not seem to be a factor.

The division of the two parents may result from conflicts over parental investment. Draganoi believes each parent may try to do the least amount of work and push the other parent to work harder. This will maximize current reproductive success, and also save energy for future reproduction. This theory makes sense because it would maximize reproductive success, but more studies need to be done to confirm it. The splitting up of offspring between parents also occurs in a number of other species including: blackbirds, robins, bluethroats, dunnocks, prairie warblers, song sparrows, white-throated sparrows, great crested grebe, and the coot.

Posted by Brian Salem (6)


At 3:47 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I thought this was an interesting blog/ study. I liked how the blogger related the study to some of the birds that we have been discussing in class. I also thought the blog was interesting because it was a study that I would never think to test. It doesn't seem like something that would be easy to test. I would also hope that Tudor Draganoi could find a mechanism for the causation of this behaviour. I thought that the article and the blog were well correlated. The blogger posted the keys points of the article in the blog. All in all this was an enjoyable read.

posted by MJP

At 12:23 PM, Blogger PWH said...

wow, it is nice to know that humans arent the only species with such issues. This article was fun to read and i have to say, a little sad. I wonder how the offspring are affected by this in the long run, would the offspring be more likely to do the same with their offspring and their mates?

posted by EJH

At 8:20 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:22 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I had no idea that issues dealing with parenting also correlated with animals as well. I always thought that humans were the only ones that could potentially show favortism towards their young. The article was interesting in that it showed both differences as well as similarities in how birds and humans interact within their own species. However, what I don't understand is how the birds determine what parent should have more responsibilities than the other. Also, do the young show favortism back over which parent they would prefer taking care of them? It would be nice to know the conclusion of this particular study.

Posted by HC

At 10:41 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I thought this post was very well written. However, I’d be really interested to see more research about this topic. Are there studies about the possible long term affects of the parental preference on the offspring? After the family splits, do the parents continue to perform the same duties? Is there competition between the young for a particular parent? I was unclear on when this behavior started to be exhibited as well. Overall, a very interesting post!



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