From: University of East Anglia
Published October 10, 2017 12:20 PM

Birds Reveal Importance of Good Neighbours for Health and Aging

Birds who live next door to family members or to other birds they know well are physically healthier and age more slowly, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The research, conducted in collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Leeds (UK) and Groningen (the Netherlands), is published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Much like humans, many wild animals ‘own’ a private piece of land, or territory, that they rigorously defend against intruders. Having good neighbours that respect the territory boundaries means less work and stress for territory owners – but are some neighbours better than others? Good neighbours come in two varieties. Firstly, when neighbours are extended family members, they share genes and therefore refrain from fighting over space or intruding into each other’s territories. Second, if neighbours know each other well, they should keep the peace and cooperate with each other in order to prevent new neighbours, with whom they must resettle all the rules regarding territory boundaries, from moving into the neighbourhood.

Scientists studied a population of Seychelles warblers, a small island bird endemic to the Seychelles islands, to test whether territory owners with more related, or more familiar, neighbours had more peaceful territories and better health as a result. Territory owners were sometimes observed fighting with their neighbours, but never with family members or neighbours that they were neighbours with in previous years.

Read more at University of East Anglia

Image: This is a Seychelles warbler. (Credit: Sjouke Anne Kingma)

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