City life may modify blackbird's personality

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany, have recently discovered how the origin and upbringing could affect the personality of blackbirds.

This study may finally put an end to the heated debate on whether blackbirds in the urban areas demonstrated different behavior than the blackbirds in the rural areas due to evolution or due to a behavioral change as a result of exposure to different environments.

While it is already well-known that animals do possess distinct personalities; the reason behind this is not yet explainable.

Being a typical forest-dweller, blackbirds are now common among cities. Its behavior, however, seems to have changed in many ways- they now breed earlier, live in higher densities and migrate less in winter.

This new research, led by Ana Catarina Miranda, claims that the exposure to city life may be responsible for this change in behavior of the blackbirds.

"This seems to be a global phenomenon," Miranda claimed.

Of an analysis of 29 studies, 27 confirmed that the animals based in cities respond differently to certain situations as compared to animals in the countryside.

The researchers also collected nestlings from both- rural and urban environments, and hand-reared them, and kept them under identical environmental conditions. After these blackbirds matured, the researchers subjected them to unfamiliar conditions.

Close observation revealed that the blackbirds who were from the forest, waited less longer to approach unfamiliar objects as compared to the blackbirds who were bred in urban areas.

This revelation confirmed the fact that this behavioral difference was intrinsic and not an effect of external environmental conditions, since all the blackbirds were brought up together.

 "Animals in fast-paced urban environments face numerous and potentially dangerous new situations and this might select for specific reactions towards novelty," Miranda added.  "Evolution appears to have favored certain personality types."

This study may be an important step in helping scientists understand how animals cope up with the huge advancements, developments and urbanization taking place today. 

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