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article imageReview: From birds to frogs, same sex sexuality is common

By Nikki Weingartner     Jun 16, 2009 in Environment
Recent work accomplished by a pair of scientists from the University of California, Riverside have come up with an interesting find. Across the animal world, same -sex behaviour is rather common and yet the review of it's consequences remain unstudied.
A recent review of existing research data published today in Trends in Ecology & Evolution revealed that same-sex sexual behaviour was noted in nearly all animals and yet no undertaking of it's consequences have been followed. As stated in a news report by the lead author on the paper, Nathan Bailey, the behaviour in these animals is greater than just " the well-known examples that dominate both the scientific and popular literature: for example, bonobos, dolphins, penguins and fruit flies."
In the paper, it was explained how courting, attempted mating or mounting and even co-parenting of the offspring may be traits that are shaped via natural selection. However, the process of same-sex behaviour may also serve as an impetus for selection in and of itself. In essence, same-sex behaviors could be the force that alters reproductive success within the population.
For example, Bailey explains male on male behaviour found in locusts and their possible outcome:
male-male copulations in locusts can be costly for the mounted male, and this cost may in turn increase selection pressure for males' tendency to release a chemical called panacetylnitrile, which dissuades other males from mounting them."
Over the past 25 years, the studies that have followed these behaviours are reportedly not taking into account the consequences that can occur over time. Same-sex behaviour was even equated to other behaviours in populations that do not lead to reproduction, such as altruism and aggression. That behaviour could impact things like the availability of mates and reproductive outcomes, consequences that are exactly what Bailey and co-author, Marlene Zuk plan on researching.
According to the Science Daily article, the paper provided the following:
Examines work done to test hypotheses about the origins of same-sex behavior in animals.
Provides a framework for categorizing same-sex behavior, for example, is it adaptive, not adaptive, occurs often, infrequently?
Discusses what has been discovered about the genetics of same-sex behavior, especially in the model organism, the fruit fly Drosophila, and in human beings.
Examines connections between human sexual orientation research, and research on non-human animals, and highlights promising avenues of research in non-human systems.
The paper also explained that the same-sex tendencies are not necessarily consistent across different species, citing that some may lack the ability to differentiate between other sexes, as with the fruit fly. The duo from UC Riverside will continue their their research on the Laysan Albatross, where the female birds pair up with same-sex partners and raise their young as a couple when males are not available.
Could this be a foundation for a better understanding regarding the normalcy of same-sex relationships as well as potential consequences?
More about Same sex, Behaviour, All species
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