Behavior brief

A round up of recent discoveries in behavior research

By | November 18, 2010

Flashy fathers risk offspring safety
Blue-black Grassquit, Volatinia jacarina
Wikipedia Commons/Dario Sanches
In a population of blue-black grassquits, song birds found in the tropics of South America, nests within territories of displaying males are at greater risk of predation by avian predators than areas without them, suggesting a trade-off exists for fathers between attracting new mates and protecting their existing offspring. R. Dias, et al., "Experimental evidence that sexual displays are costly for nest survival," linkurl:Ethology,; 116:1011-19, 2010. Spiders duped by bug predator By comparing spiders' reactions to different stimuli landing in their web, researchers found that assassin bugs trick their spider prey by mimicking the vibrations on the web made by the spider's own struggling prey, causing the spiders to come within striking range. A. Wignall, et al., "Assassin bug uses aggressive mimicry to lure spider prey," Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, AOP, linkurl:doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.2060,; 2010. Predators influence offspring in ovo Female sticklebacks exposed to the threat of predators tend to produce offspring that stay closer together when shoaling, researchers found. When in the egg, these offspring exhibited higher levels of cortisol, suggesting a hormonal mechanism might explain how the information about the predatory environment influences offspring behavior. E. Giesing, et al., "Female stickleback transfer information via eggs: effects of maternal experience with predators on offspring," Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, AOP, linkurl:doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1819,; 2010. Queens conquer unrelated hives
Queen bee surrounded by workers
Wikipedia Commons/Waugsberg
Normally queen bees either leave with a swarm of workers to establish a hive of their own or supersede a mother queen after she dies. Now researchers have found evidence that nascent queens occasionally take over unrelated hives nearby as well. T. Wenseleers, et al., "Intraspecific queen parasitism in a highly eusocial bee," Biology Letters, AOP, linkurl:doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0819,; 2010. The bird who cried wolf Fork-tailed drongo birds trick individuals of their own and other species into abandoning newly found food by making false alarm calls. In addition to their own alarm calls, researchers found that drongos can mimic the alarm calls of others species, perhaps as a ploy to sustain their trickery when animals stop responding to the drongos' calls. T. Flower, "Fork-tailed drongos use deceptive mimicked alarm calls to steal food," Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, AOP, linkurl:doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1932,; 2010. Love songs stay classic Courtship songs of chestnut-sided warblers appear relatively stable over evolutionary time compared to those used for territorial displays, which have changed considerably over the course of two decades, researchers found, suggesting the presence of two distinct traditions in song bird "culture." B. Byers, et al., "Independent Cultural Evolution of Two Song Traditions in the Chestnut-Sided Warbler," linkurl:The American Naturalist,; 176:476-89, 2010. Meat, the ultimate pacifier Despite the need for the protection of meat resources in the wild for primate ancestors, researchers found that the sight of meat makes people less aggressive. Research subjects looking at pictures of meat were less likely to dictate punishment than those looking at neutral images, suggesting meat actually has a calming effect. F. Kachanoff, et al., presented at McGill University's annual undergraduate science linkurl:symposium,; 2010.


Avatar of: Alex O

Alex O'Neal

Posts: 8

November 18, 2010

Isn't that the case with humans as well as birds? While each generation contributes its own songs to the ouevre, certain love songs continue to appeal decades and even centuries after composition: Someone to Watch Over Me, I'll Be Seeing You, and of course the evergreen Greensleeves all have strong followings beyond their generations, from people born long after they showed on the scene.\n\nIn contrast, highly specific genre songs which help define cultural "territories" such as metal, punk, gangsta rap, indie, bluegrass, and others, frequently hold less appeal over time, even within the groups in question. Perhaps simple, cross-genre love songs are more likely to have lasting appeal simply because the audience is larger - but perhaps that's because they engage on a more universal level.
Avatar of: david morse

david morse

Posts: 1

November 18, 2010

RE: Courtship songs\nIt seems to me that changes in courtship songs would be subject to a strong negative selection, as a change that prohibits sucessful reproduction would disappear from the population.
Avatar of: Mike Waldrep

Mike Waldrep

Posts: 155

November 19, 2010

I nteresting! I hope that everyone has a great weekend!
Avatar of: Vinod Nikhra

Vinod Nikhra

Posts: 48

November 20, 2010

Good stories. Ah, good papers. There may exist simplified behavioral patterns in insects, avians and lower primates, though. What about complex behavior patterns in intellectually advanced species? Biological instincts, basic emotions and the modified behaviors and controlled display of emotions may pose difficulties to the behavioral studies, the inferences and their applications.\nBut of course, I should applaud the efforts of the scientists.\n\nVinod Nikhra, M.D.\\
Avatar of: Nirmal Mishra

Nirmal Mishra

Posts: 22

November 21, 2010

Researches on behavior are interesting. The paper ?Predators influence offspring in ovo? shows that intrauterine life can be influenced by external conditions. How long these influences will last has to be investigated.\nNirmal Kumar Mishra\nRetd. University professor of zoology, Patna University, Patna (India)\n
Avatar of: Steven Pace

Steven Pace

Posts: 22

November 24, 2010

Songs that have a impact on people endure over time. Our great romantic songs don't change.\n\nTerritorial songs should change, that makes perfect sense. Threats quickly cease to be effective. New, more possible more angry cries win out.

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