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UCC With Oxford University Reveal – The Early Bird Catches a Mate

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UCC With Oxford University Reveal – The Early Bird Catches a Mate

UCC With Oxford University Reveal – The Early Bird Catches a Mate
November 05
09:11 2018

A groundbreaking new study published in the journal, Nature Ecology and Evolution, has found that two individual personalities of male great tits influence bonding with their future breeding partner.

Professor John Quinn, UCC, said: “Finding a mating partner is of great importance to great tits, as it is for many animal species. My colleagues and I wanted to ask why individuals of the same species differ so much in how much effort they put into forming these relationships.”

The more proactive males choose their future partners sooner while shyer reactive males spend more time flocking with other females. Pro-actives also put more effort into their relationship before the breeding season begins. Females’ personality, on the other hand, did not determine their overall pair-bond strength.

The fieldwork, which was carried out at Oxford University’s Wytham Woods, assessed the personalities of hundreds of individual wild great tits and then used radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track the birds’ social networks over multiple years.

Professor Quinn added: “We show that personality plays an important role in pair-bonding tactics; bold males dedicate more time to their chosen future partner, even long before mating begins, while unexpectedly the shy males seem to be choosier and slower to form pair bonds. This is a highly surprising result because, despite their forming pair bonds early, earlier research suggests that bold males are also more promiscuous during the breeding season itself.

“Earlier results also suggest bold and shy males do just as well in terms of reproductive success. Together these findings suggest that there may be no ‘best personality’ [… ], being bold and proactive is better for finding a good partner in some social situations, while more reserved strategies are preferable in others.”

The researchers hope that the findings will promote more studies on social relationships across many species and the impact on societies.

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