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You snooze, you lose: Less sleep leads to more offspring in male pectoral sandpipers


PhysOrg

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During the breeding season, polygynous male pectoral sandpipers that sleep the least sire the most young. A team of researchers headed by Bart Kempenaers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen has now discovered this extraordinary relationship. During three weeks of intense competition under the constant daylight of the Arctic summer, males actively court females and compete with other males. Using an innovative combination of tags that monitored movement, male-female interactions, and brain activity in conjunction with DNA paternity testing, the authors discovered that the most sleepless males were the most successful in producing young. As the first evidence for adaptive sleep loss, these results challenge the commonly held view that reduced performance is an evolutionarily inescapable outcome of sleep loss.

 

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