Researchers found that birds expressing strong personality traits, such as aggressive behavior or a willingness to explore, did a much better job of raising young if they had a like-minded partner. Where couples were markedly various in personality, chicks didn’t fare as well, being less well-fed and in poorer condition.
The researchers are not able to give a decisive reason for the parenting benefits of matched personalities, but say it could be down to improved collaboration and coordination of effort.
Researcher Dr. Sasha, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, said: “The personality differences we focused on with these birds reflected how they go about their daily lives. In the case of zebra finches, to be good parents you need to be able to coordinate your behavior so that when one parent is searching for food, the other is feeding the chick. It’s a lot easier to coordinate your behavior if you’re similar in the way you go about things.”
For the search, researchers concentrated in on the personalities of a group of zebra finches. They were able to prove that some showed consistent patterns of behavior, normally either reflected in different levels of aggressiveness or willingness to explore. Overwhelmingly the traits were combined, but some finches didn’t demonstrate them at all.
Then couples were artificially paired jointly, with a selection of couples who were like-minded and some who had no common traits. while mated, eggs were swapped between nests in order to distinguish the advantages of genetic, as opposed to the behavioral compatibility of parents. Experts then studied the animals when they were feeding their chicks, and watched the progress of hatchlings to see which couples were doing a good job as parents.
The researcher Dr. Royle said that they found that if birds were highly exploratory and their partners shared that trait, their offspring were in really good condition. It was the same for many aggressive birds.
If just one parent showed the trait, the chicks fared less well. Our study dominated out the concept that this was because of genetic compatibility, therefore this might solely ensue to the activity compatibility of the people whereas they were raising offspring.”