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Maternal Effects Influences And Sexual Behaviors In The Zebra Finch

1107 words - 5 pages

Forstmeier, W., Coltman, D. W., & Birkhead, T. R. (2004). Maternal effects influence the sexual behavior of sons and daughters in the zebra finch. Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution, 58(11), 2574-2583.
The authors sought to present data on maternal effect on offspring sexual behavior in the zebra finch and whether these variation were due to environmental factors or byproducts of embryotic development. Little is known about the variant causes in both sons and daughters, though research suggests that carotenoids, vitamins, and immune factors become reduced as the laying order increases, giving the initial eggs the most resources. Factors looked at include hatching order, ...view middle of the document...

The first eggs laid where removed from mom and placed in a fostering environment immediately. In previous studies, this proved to increase broad size to a greater than normal average.
Male aggressiveness was measured over five days in eight different occasions for ten minutes each. In 30-second intervals each males was tallied every time he pecked at another bird forcing the opponent to get away. The eight females were introduced to the males each once a day (for eight days total) for five minutes to induce song. Male song rate was only related to male aggressiveness at r=0.16 and P= 0.116. Genetic effect models were ran to determine if aggressiveness has an environmental origin or if it was inherited. Maternal effects were more correlated at 0.342 compared to 0.038 correlation with genetic effects.
Female choosiness was determined by placing and conditioning each of the females to a chambered compartment. One area had food and water while the other four had a male from their group. The time each female spent perched in front of each of the males was measured in percentages. Control test were set to account for differences in exploratory behavior for each female. Two sets of males were recorded. Results were similar when the males where alternated. Measured aggressiveness and length of time sang to the female where compared to perched time. Females that had been previously sang to for longer periods of time – regardless of the song rate - reciprocated with longer perch times in the earlier laid females. Results illustrated that eggs laid early were much more likely to spend all their time with a particular male, this most often being the most aggressive/singing males. Females from eggs that were laid later in the clutch spend their time with the four males much more evenly. Even when given the opportunity to take a single male as a mate as do the earlier-laid counterparts, these females still distributed their time. This puts forth the theory that the selection process is not imposed by nesting care or other parenting, but developmentally innate. It was suggested that the last two eggs of a clutch were of lesser quality since mothers were pushed to lay an unusual large number of eggs. Where these last eggs were removed however, the correlation was still strong. Data also showed significant heritability for male...

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