Post-hatching parental care behaviour and hormonal status in a precocial bird

Institut pluridisciplinaire Hubert-Curien, département écologie, physiologie et éthologie, UMR 7178 CNRS-ULP, 23, rue Becquerel, 67087 Strasbourg cedex 2, France.
Behavioural Processes (Impact Factor: 1.46). 12/2007; 76(3):206-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2007.05.003
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT In birds, the link between parental care behaviour and prolactin release during incubation persists after hatching in altricial birds, but has never been precisely studied during the whole rearing period in precocial species, such as ducks. The present study aims to understand how changes in parental care after hatching are related to circulating prolactin levels in mallard hens rearing ducklings. Blood was sampled in hens over at least 13 post-hatching weeks and the behaviour of the hens and the ducklings was recorded daily until fledging. Contacts between hens and the ducklings, leadership of the ducklings and gathering of them steadily decreased over post-hatching time. Conversely, resting, preening and agonistic behaviour of hens towards ducklings increased. Plasma prolactin concentrations remained at high levels after hatching and then fell after week 6 when body mass and structural size of the young were close to those of the hen. Parental care behaviour declined linearly with brood age, showed a disruption of the hen-brood bond at week 6 post-hatching and was related to prolactin concentration according to a sigmoid function. Our results suggest that a definite threshold in circulating prolactin is necessary to promote and/or to maintain post-hatching parental care in ducks.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The dopaminergic (DAergic) system plays a pivotal role in incubation behavior via the regulation of prolactin (PRL) secretion in birds, however the role of the DA/PRL system in rearing behavior is poorly understood. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between the DA/PRL system and rearing behavior in a gallinaceous bird, the native Thai chicken. Incubating native Thai hens were divided into two groups. In the first group, hens were allowed to care for their chicks (rearing hens; R). In the second group, hens were deprived of their chicks immediately after hatching (non-rearing hens; NR). In both groups, blood samples and brain sections were collected at different time points after the chicks hatched (days 4, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, and 28; 6 hens/time point/group). In this study, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) was used as a marker for DAergic neurons. The numbers of TH-immunoreactive (-ir) neurons in the nucleus intramedialis (nI) and in the nucleus mamillaris lateralis (ML), which regulate the vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)/PRL system, were determined in R and NR hens utilizing immunohistochemical techniques. Plasma PRL levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The results revealed that both the number of TH-ir neurons in the nI and the plasma PRL levels were significantly higher in the R hens compared with the NR hens during the first 14days of chick rearing (P<0.05). However, there was no significant change in the DAergic activity in the ML in either the R or NR groups throughout the 28-day rearing periods. These results suggest that the DA/PRL system is involved in early rearing behavior. The additional decline in DAergic activity and plasma PRL levels during the disruption of rearing behavior further supports their involvement in rearing behavior in this equatorial precocial species.
    General and Comparative Endocrinology 04/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.ygcen.2014.03.046 · 2.82 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: As fostered game birds are better prepared for releasing in comparison to those intensively reared, fostering of wild and game farm red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) was studied on a semi-natural rearing farm using farm-hatched chicks. Parent pairs, barren pairs and single individuals from wild and game farm strains were used in a total of 208 attempts. Fostering was observed in both strains, but more successful attempts were in wild parent pairs (27 of 29 pairs, 93%) than in the game farm strain (12). In the game farm strain all fostering was done by barren pairs and single individuals; as none of the game farm pairs raised their own chicks it was not possible to test game farm parent pairs. Wild parent pairs also showed a high percentage of fostering at a second attempt one week after the first (25 of 27 pairs, 93%), suggesting that fostering is strongly related to parental care behaviour. A low proportion of barren pairs and singles adopted unrelated chicks (9%), with most of these (12 of 13 attempts) being farm-bred. When fostering was observed, adults displayed behavioural patterns related to parental care (brooding and calling) and spent 35% of time in proximity to chicks, compared to 19% and absence of parental care when fostering was unsuccessful. Successful fostering increased brood size four weeks after hatching by 4.4±2.3 fostered chicks. This study suggests that fostering for releasing purposes is a feasible technique in semi-natural rearing systems. Wild strains of partridges and parent pairs should be chosen as foster parents.
    Applied Animal Behaviour Science 08/2011; 133(1):70-77. DOI:10.1016/j.applanim.2011.04.012 · 1.63 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hormones regulate many aspects of an individual's phenotype, including various physiological and behavioral traits. Two hormones have been described as important players in the regulation of parental investment in birds: the glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone and prolactin, a pituitary hormone, widely involved in mediating parental behavior. In comparison with corticosterone, the role of prolactin on parental investment remains poorly documented, and most studies so far have been correlative. In this study, the effects of an experimental decrease of prolactin levels on the incubation behavior of a long-lived seabird species were assessed. Male Adélie penguins were treated with self-degradable bromocriptine pellets, inhibiting prolactin secretion. Filming and subsequent video analysis allowed determination of a behavioral time budget for birds and their position on the nest, while dummy eggs recorded incubation parameters. Incubation duration and breeding success at hatching were also monitored. As expected, bromocriptine-treatment significantly decreased plasma prolactin levels, but did not affect corticosterone levels. The behavioral time budget of penguins was not affected by the treatment. However, treated birds spent significantly more time in an upright position on the nest. These birds also incubated their eggs at lower temperatures and turned their eggs more frequently than controls, resulting in a lengthened incubation period. Despite this, the treatment was insufficient to trigger nest desertion and eggs of treated birds still hatched, indicating that several endocrine signals are required for the induction of nest abandonment. We suggest that the decreased prolactin levels in treated birds offset their timeline of breeding, so that birds displayed behavior typical of early incubation.
    Hormones and Behavior 06/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2013.06.003 · 4.51 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Jun 6, 2014