Friday, August 5, 2011

Do flirts age faster? Link between overt sexual displays and aging found by scientists in bird-breeding programme

By Daily Mail Reporter

'Booming': Scientists have found a link between sexual behaviour and ageing among Hubari bustards, which flare their feathers in a distinctive mating ritual

Indulging in overt sexual behaviour could lead to premature ageing in men through 'burnout', according to scientists studying fertility patterns in birds.

A 10-year research programme into the sex lives of bustards, birds with a very flamboyant mating display, showed a dramatic decline in the quality of sperm among the more 'showy' males.

The mating display of the male Houbara bustard, known as 'booming', sees striking ornamental feathers flare up before the bird runs around while making a low-pitched call.

In the mood: As per the video below, this bustard is flaring its feathers at the beginning of its mating ritual

The study of more than 1,700 North African Houbara bustards showed that the more times male birds performed the ritual, the more the quality of their sperm declined for what the scientists believe is an age-related reason.

'Over the age of six years they began to produce much smaller ejaculates with immobile and frequently abnormal sperm,' lead researcher Dr Brian Preston Preston told the BBC.

'But the key finding was that males that had invested most effort displaying to females in their earlier years experienced the onset of this age-related decline in fertility at a younger age.

'They effectively seem to "burn themselves out" sooner.'

The birds, a threatened species, were bred in captivity in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, as part of a programme designed to boost their numbers in the wild.

Bustards are ripe for the study because they live for so long, and the study examined birds aged from one to 24.

The males can 'boom' for as much as 18 hours a day, six months of the year.

source :dailymail

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