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Assessing the effects of repeated handling on the physiology and condition of semi-precocial nestlings

Watson, Hannah LU ; Bolton, Mark; Heidinger, Britt J.; Boner, Winnie and Monaghan, Pat (2016) In Ibis 158(4). p.834-843
Abstract

Repeated exposure to elevated levels of glucocorticoids during development can have long-term detrimental effects on survival and fitness, potentially associated with increased telomere attrition. Nestling birds are regularly handled for ecological research, yet few authors have considered the potential for handling-induced stress to influence hormonally mediated phenotypic development or bias interpretations of subsequent focal measurements. We experimentally manipulated the handling experience of the semi-precocial nestlings of European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus to simulate handling in a typical field study and examined cumulative effects on physiology and condition in late postnatal development. Neither baseline... (More)

Repeated exposure to elevated levels of glucocorticoids during development can have long-term detrimental effects on survival and fitness, potentially associated with increased telomere attrition. Nestling birds are regularly handled for ecological research, yet few authors have considered the potential for handling-induced stress to influence hormonally mediated phenotypic development or bias interpretations of subsequent focal measurements. We experimentally manipulated the handling experience of the semi-precocial nestlings of European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus to simulate handling in a typical field study and examined cumulative effects on physiology and condition in late postnatal development. Neither baseline corticosterone (the primary glucocorticoid in birds), telomere length nor body condition varied with the number of handling episodes. The absence of a response could be explained if Storm Petrels did not perceive handling to be stressful or if there is dissociation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis from stressful stimuli in early life. Eliciting a response to a stressor may be maladaptive for cavity-dwelling young that are unable to escape or defend themselves. Furthermore, avoiding elevated overall glucocorticoid exposure may be particularly important in a long-lived species, in which accelerated early-life telomere erosion could impact negatively upon longevity. We propose that the level of colony-wide disturbance induced by investigator handling of young could be important in underlining species-specific responses. Storm Petrel nestlings appear unresponsive to investigator handling within the limits of handling in a typical field study and handling at this level should not bias physiological and morphological measurements.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
conservation physiology, glucocorticoids, telomeres, storm-petrel, stress
in
Ibis
volume
158
issue
4
pages
10 pages
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:84986216702
  • scopus:84986216702
  • wos:000388349800013
ISSN
0019-1019
DOI
10.1111/ibi.12402
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
729fa217-558b-4821-bd80-659a4c38f5f2
date added to LUP
2016-08-02 12:12:07
date last changed
2017-09-18 11:28:12
@article{729fa217-558b-4821-bd80-659a4c38f5f2,
  abstract     = {<p>Repeated exposure to elevated levels of glucocorticoids during development can have long-term detrimental effects on survival and fitness, potentially associated with increased telomere attrition. Nestling birds are regularly handled for ecological research, yet few authors have considered the potential for handling-induced stress to influence hormonally mediated phenotypic development or bias interpretations of subsequent focal measurements. We experimentally manipulated the handling experience of the semi-precocial nestlings of European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus to simulate handling in a typical field study and examined cumulative effects on physiology and condition in late postnatal development. Neither baseline corticosterone (the primary glucocorticoid in birds), telomere length nor body condition varied with the number of handling episodes. The absence of a response could be explained if Storm Petrels did not perceive handling to be stressful or if there is dissociation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis from stressful stimuli in early life. Eliciting a response to a stressor may be maladaptive for cavity-dwelling young that are unable to escape or defend themselves. Furthermore, avoiding elevated overall glucocorticoid exposure may be particularly important in a long-lived species, in which accelerated early-life telomere erosion could impact negatively upon longevity. We propose that the level of colony-wide disturbance induced by investigator handling of young could be important in underlining species-specific responses. Storm Petrel nestlings appear unresponsive to investigator handling within the limits of handling in a typical field study and handling at this level should not bias physiological and morphological measurements.</p>},
  author       = {Watson, Hannah and Bolton, Mark and Heidinger, Britt J. and Boner, Winnie and Monaghan, Pat},
  issn         = {0019-1019},
  keyword      = {conservation physiology,glucocorticoids,telomeres,storm-petrel,stress},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {10},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {834--843},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Ibis},
  title        = {Assessing the effects of repeated handling on the physiology and condition of semi-precocial nestlings},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ibi.12402},
  volume       = {158},
  year         = {2016},
}