Variation in plasma oxidative status and testosterone level in relation to egg-eviction effort and age of brood-parasitic Common Cuckoo nestlings

R. Hargitai, David Costantini, C. Moskát, Miklós Bán, Jaime Muriel, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To avoid competition for parental care, brood-parasitic Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) nestlings evict all of the host's eggs and nestlings within a few days after hatching. little is known about the physiological effects of eviction behavior on the cuckoo nestling's oxidative balance or about age-related variation in plasma oxidative status and testosterone level of developing birds. We examined whether the cuckoo nestling's plasma oxidative status was related to prior effort in eviction and quantified variation in the level of reactive oxygen metabolites, of nonenzymatic antioxidant capacity, and of testosterone concentration in plasma at various phases of the cuckoo's development. levels of both reactive oxygen metabolites and antioxidant capacity were greater in older than in younger nestlings, suggesting that younger nestlings effectively counterbalance their increased production of free radicals, whereas, near fledging, levels of reactive oxygen metabolites increase despite improved antioxidant capacity. Possibly, overall energy expenditure increases with age and elevates the production of reactive oxygen species to a rate higher than what the antioxidant system could eliminate. Plasma testosterone level was the highest at nestlings' intermediate phase of growth. High levels of testosterone may be required during the period of fastest growth, and when the growth rate levels off near fledging, testosterone levels may also decline. Cuckoo chicks that evicted more host eggs from steeper nests had higher plasma levels of reactive oxygen metabolites shortly after the eviction period, suggesting that eviction is costly in terms of an increased level of oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-791
Number of pages10
JournalCondor
Volume114
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2012

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Cuculus canorus
testosterone
nestling
egg
plasma
reactive oxygen species
antioxidant
metabolite
antioxidants
oxygen
fledging
brood rearing
parental care
free radical
nestlings
energy expenditure
hatching
expenditure
nest
oxidative stress

Keywords

  • Antioxidant capacity
  • Brood parasitism
  • Eviction behavior
  • Oxidative stress
  • Plasma testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Variation in plasma oxidative status and testosterone level in relation to egg-eviction effort and age of brood-parasitic Common Cuckoo nestlings. / Hargitai, R.; Costantini, David; Moskát, C.; Bán, Miklós; Muriel, Jaime; Hauber, Mark E.

In: Condor, Vol. 114, No. 4, 01.11.2012, p. 782-791.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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