Stress, metabolism, and antioxidants in two wild passerine bird species
Cohen, Alan; Hau, Michaela; Wikelski, Martin
Abstract: Antioxidants protect against free-radical damage, and free radicals, in turn, are thought to underlie aging. Thus, measuring antioxidants mayaid ﬁeldecologistsinunderstandingthephysiological mechanisms that underlie life-history trade-offs. Antioxidant levels are known to vary markedly in response to the stress of capture in many birds. These changes in antioxidants could result from regulation (e.g., by stress-related hormones) or consumption (e.g., by an increase in free radicals due to increased metabolicrate).Hereweexperimentallytesttheeffect of increased metabolic rate on circulating antioxidant and corticosterone concentrations in two wild passerine bird species, house sparrows (Passer domesticus) and gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis). We increased metabolic rate via exposure to low ambient temperatures overnight in captivity and measured circulating antioxidant capacity, uric acid, corticosterone, and oxygen consumption in cold-exposed and control individuals. Both species showed increases rather than decreases in all antioxidant parameters overnight, contradicting a consumptionby-energy-expenditure hypothesis. Both positive and negative correlations between antioxidant response and corticosterone response were occasionally but not consistently present, refuting a generalized regulation-by-corticosteronehypothesis.High baseline uric acid predicted diminished response of corticosterone and all antioxidants. Thus, high uric acid may reﬂect recent stress, poor condition, or a compensatory response. Relationships among metabolic rate, antioxidants, and corticosterone differed qualitatively between the species.
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