Posted by: Sylvia, aka Shucky | August 23, 2010

Gay Animals: Alternate Lifestyles in the Wild

For an amazing and enlightening article…

http://www.livescience.com/animals/gay-homosexual-animals-100820.html

Here’s another…

Why It’s OK for Birds to Be Gay

Rebecca Kessler

In greylag geese, nearly a fifth of all long-term couples are composed of two males. They’re not alone: More than 130 bird species are known to engage in homosexual behavior at least occasionally, a fact that has puzzled scientists.

After all, in evolutionary terms same-sex mating seems to reduce the birds’ chances of reproductive success. But that’s not necessarily so, according to a new study. In a given species, the sex with lighter parental duties tends to mate more, period — whether with the same or the opposite sex.

Birds engage in all kinds of same-sex hanky panky, from elaborate courtship displays to mounting and genital contact to setting up house together. In some species the same-sex pairs even raise young (conceived with outside partners, obviously) and stay together for several years.

In 2007, a team led by Geoff MacFarlane, a biologist at the University of Newcastle in Australia, reported that male homosexual behavior was more common in polygynous bird species, where males mate with numerous females, and that female homosexual behavior was more common in monogamous species.

Intrigued, MacFarlane looked for help explaining the pattern in a theory predicting that whichever gender spends less time caring for young tends to have sex with more partners.

In greylag geese, nearly a fifth of all long-term couples are composed of two males. They’re not alone: More than 130 bird species are known to engage in homosexual behavior at least occasionally, a fact that has puzzled scientists.

After all, in evolutionary terms same-sex mating seems to reduce the birds’ chances of reproductive success. But that’s not necessarily so, according to a new study. In a given species, the sex with lighter parental duties tends to mate more, period — whether with the same or the opposite sex.

Birds engage in all kinds of same-sex hanky panky, from elaborate courtship displays to mounting and genital contact to setting up house together. In some species the same-sex pairs even raise young (conceived with outside partners, obviously) and stay together for several years.

In 2007, a team led by Geoff MacFarlane, a biologist at the University of Newcastle in Australia, reported that male homosexual behavior was more common in polygynous bird species, where males mate with numerous females, and that female homosexual behavior was more common in monogamous species.

Intrigued, MacFarlane looked for help explaining the pattern in a theory predicting that whichever gender spends less time caring for young tends to have sex with more partners.

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