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New insights into animal domestication
“If early domestic animals lived at higher density than their wild counterparts, the likelihood of early domestic females breeding with multiple partners increased."

Changes to mating behaviour ‘enhanced domestic traits’ 

Wild animals such as wolves, pigs and cats may have become domesticated more quickly due to changes in mating behaviour, according to new research by the University of Liverpool.

Scientists say that as the animals’ population density increased in human environments, males encountered more opportunities for mating.

The benefits of pursuing these are likely to have outweighed the cost of defending access to a single mate.
 
Dr Ardern Hulme-Beaman explained: “If early domestic animals lived at higher density than their wild counterparts, the likelihood of early domestic females breeding with multiple partners increased.

“It follows that if early domestic females mated with multiple males, both wild and domestic, the more abundant and higher quality sperm of the early domestic male would out-compete the sperm of wild males.

“This could explain the reduction in transfer of genes between wild and increasingly domesticated populations.”

There are a number of advantages to polyandrous mating - for the males, it improves sperm production and quality, while for female animals, there is a benefit to their fitness and a reduction in unwanted advances.

Researchers say this prompts a rapid change in reproductive traits and competitive fertility and could explain why domesticated animals show “dramatically different social behaviours” to their wild ancestors.

Whilst the research team accepts that the main driving force behind the domestication of wild animals is habitat preference and human selection, further research could improve understanding of how changes in mating behaviour contributed to this process.  

 

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Avian flu outbreak at RSPB Minsmere

News Story 1
 RSPB Minsmere nature reserve in Suffolk has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on its site. The coastal nature reserve has seen an increase in dead birds recently, and has said that it is 'extremely concerned' about the potential impacts on bird populations, with 2021 and 2022 seeing the largest ever outbreak in the UK.

In a statement, RSPB said: "We appreciate that it is distressing, for both visitors and staff, to see dead or dying birds at our site but we ask that if visitors see any dead or unwell birds, they do not touch or go near them and that they report it to us at our Visitor Centre during its opening hours, or by emailing us on minsmere@rspb.org.uk outside of these times."  

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Moredun Foundation Award opens for applications

The 2022-2023 Moredun Foundation Award (MFA) is now open for members, with up to £2,000 available for successful applicants.

The MFA honours the contribution that education, teamwork, life experience, and travel have made to the understanding of cattle health and welfare. Through its charitable endeavours, Moredun offers its members the opportunity to pursue projects that support personal development.

The prize is open to a wide range of project applications, including those that include producing educational tools, conducting a small research project, or studying farming methods in other nations. For more information and to apply, visit moredun.org.uk