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Noisy roads may make birds age faster

Cara J

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Being around noisy traffic may make zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) that have left the nest age faster than birds in more rural environments, according to new research. Researchers had known that birds in urban environments had been shown to have shorter telomeres — caps at the end of chromosomes that protect genes from damage — which is indicative of quicker biological aging. “But it was unknown so far what the causes and mechanisms are,” said Adriana Dorado-Correa, first author of the recent study, who completed the research while at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. In the study published in Frontiers in Zoology, Dorado-Correa and her colleagues looked at traffic noise and its relationship with telomere length. The team had three treatment groups. One group was exposed to a sound recording of traffic noise from the moment the birds started courtship until their chicks abandoned the nests. Another group was exposed to the noise from 18 to 120 days old, which is an important learning period for the birds. A control group wasn’t exposed to traffic noise at all. After sampling the birds’ blood, the team found that zebra finches exposed to noise after leaving the nest had shorter telomeres [...]

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