By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez
The Nazca boobies, which reside in the Galapagos Islands, were found to experience a cycle of birdie abuse not unlike that of humans and children, according to a study by
Wake Forest University in . North Carolina
Nazca boobies live in colonies on the shores of the
Galapagos Islands and usually raise only one birdie at a time. The birdie is often left alone while they parents look for food at sea. As a result, other adult birds often bully the unattended birdies by pecking and biting them, sometimes until they bleed. Incidents of sexual abuse were also recorded. Female adult birds tended to be more aggressive than males.
When the birdies become adults themselves, those that experienced abuse as chicks tend to become abusers themselves, replicating the cycle abusive behavior on other unattended birdies.
The study, which appeared on the October issue of The Auk, which is an ornithology journal, was led by Professor Dave Anderson. He and his team conducted the experiment over three breeding seasons, and tracked the birds with the use of leg bands for identification.
Why do the birdies grow up to become abusers themselves?
The reason may be physiological, the study speculates, citing a separate study that was published in Hormones and Behavior. The latter study, headed by doctoral student Jacquelyn Grace, noted that after birdie abuse, the avian stress hormone corticosterone rises dramatically.
Extrapolating from the Grace study, the
team speculated that there could be physiological reasons behind why the Nazca boobies that were abused as children become child abusers themselves as adults. Wake University
Grace speculated that the findings of her study may help to shed light on the dynamics behind human child abuse and the human cycle of violence as well.