AUG 27, 2017 9:57 AM PDT

Don't kill me, brother!


For Nazca boobies, a seabird that inhabits the Galapagos islands, there is no sympathy among siblings; these birds practice obligate siblicide in which the first hatched chick almost always kills the second. Following the rules of limited resources, it is advantageous to be an only child. In fact, the mother booby does nothing to stop the harsh behavior; she laid the second egg as a mere insurance policy and knows that she does not have enough energy to nurture both offspring.

Although in future years to come big brother may not be the only threat to booby populations. A new study from PLOS One shows that shrinking sardine numbers, the small fish which lives in the ocean around the Galapagos and provides food for the seabirds, will likely affect Nazca boobies. With the absence of sardines, the birds will replace the fish with a less nutritious diet.

The study showed that as flying fish replaced sardines in the birds' diet, "reproductive success was halved," said Emily Tompkins, lead author of the study. "If the current links between diet and reproduction persist in the future, and rising ocean temperatures exclude sardines from the Galápagos, we forecast the Nazca booby population will decline," Tompkins said.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
The Surprising Way Honeybees Protect Hives from Hornets
DEC 10, 2020
The Surprising Way Honeybees Protect Hives from Hornets
"Murder hornets," more commonly known as giant hornets, might be new to North America, but in their native ran ...
JAN 05, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Could Earth's Microbes Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Life?
JAN 05, 2021
Could Earth's Microbes Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Life?
As scientists are learning more about microbes existing in the higher echelons of the Earth's atmosphere, they are b ...
MAR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Study Highlights Importance of Chinook Salmon to Endangered Orcas
MAR 09, 2021
Study Highlights Importance of Chinook Salmon to Endangered Orcas
Many issues plague the iconic orcas of the Pacific Northwest United States, including declining salmon populations. ...
APR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Speedbumps Reduce Endangered Red Colobus Deaths
APR 09, 2021
Speedbumps Reduce Endangered Red Colobus Deaths
The endangered Zanzibar red colobus is a rare primate that lives only in the Zanzibar archipelago. New research from Ban ...
MAY 13, 2021
Plants & Animals
Brood X Cicadas Are Here - Help Scientists Track Them
MAY 13, 2021
Brood X Cicadas Are Here - Help Scientists Track Them
Download this smartphone app to help document one of North America's natural wonders.
MAY 23, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
MAY 23, 2021
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
Current theories suggest that stars undergo changes on timescales of millions or billions of years, and that their end i ...
Loading Comments...