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Stress & Social Networks

August 5, 2015

Baby finches that are stressed out early in life turn to unrelated adults rather than their parents for guidance.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Lip Kee Yap CC BY-SA2.0Taeniopygia_guttata_-Blue_Mountains,_New_South_Wales,_Australia-8

An adult female zebra finch with two juveniles. (Lip Kee Yap/CC BY-SA2.0, via Wikipedia)

Stress and social networks. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Stressed baby finches grow up to avoid their parents and interact with other birds in the flock, while unstressed chicks stay close, according to new research in Current Biology. Cambridge biologist Neeltje Boogert and her colleagues gave baby zebra finches stress hormones. Later, they could be found networking with unrelated birds.

NEELTJE BOOGERT (Cambridge University):

They were very well connected. They developed many friendships, if you will. You might say that they were actually avoiding their parents as a source of information.

HIRSHON:

In fact, they learned new information about how to find food exclusively from unrelated adults, while unstressed birds relied on their parents. Boogert suspects that stress in early life indicates to the chicks that their parents are poor role models, and the young birds would be better off getting their information from unrelated adults. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

7325891716_e0f3ef9246_z Jim Bendon CC BY-SA 2.0 via flickr

Male and female zebra finches. (Jim Bendon/CC BY-SA 2.0, via flickr)