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Long-tailed tits avoid incest by recognising the calls of relatives

Source: phys.org

Long-tailed tits actively avoid harmful inbreeding by discriminating between the calls of close family members and non-family members, according to new research from the University of Sheffield.

Inbred animals typically suffer from reduced survival and reproductive success, so incest is usually avoided. But, in species where young stay close to where they were born, relatives are often encountered as potential mates, increasing the risk of harmful inbreeding.

Long-tailed tits often breed close to home, allowing kin to help raise each other’s chicks, but also incurring a risk of incest that reduces the reproductive success of offspring. The research, led by Dr. Amy Leedale from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Science, found that despite this risk, close relatives are actively avoided when pairs form each spring. MORE

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