Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Taurine, spiders and bolder birds

In a report recently published by the University of Glasgow

researchers reveal that birds preferentially feed their young spiders containing taurine. Taurine is an amino acid which is also found in breast milk and energy drinks. The beneficial qualities of taurine include aiding the development of premature babies and reducing blood pressure in human adults, but it has not previously been known how taurine influences the development of birds.

By comparing the behaviour of wild blue tits that were fed a taurine supplement, mimicking a diet rich in spiders, with blue tits that were not, researchers were able to observe the long term impacts of this vital nutrient.

They found that taurine had a significant impact on the personality and memory of the birds. Those who were fed taurine as chicks were on average much bolder and better at learning in adulthood, than their counterparts who were not fed the extra taurine.

This explains for the first time why birds feed their young spiders at a particular stage in their development and how parents can permanently alter the behaviour of their offspring via the food that they select.”

This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University Of Glasgow, the picture was provided by UoG.

Question: how will it be before we see Taurine supplements in our bird seed as a way of influencing reproductive outcome?

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