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Sexual, seasonal, and environmental variation in plasma carotenoids in great tits, Parus major

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Caroline Isaksson
Maria Von Post
Staffan Andersson
Publicerad i Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volym 92
Nummer/häfte 3
Sidor 521-527
ISSN 0024-4066
Publiceringsår 2007
Publicerad vid Zoologiska institutionen
Sidor 521-527
Språk en
Länkar dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2007...
Ämnesord allocation conflict, antioxidants, caterpillars, feather pigmentation, lutein, plumage coloration, pollution, zeaxanthin
Ämneskategorier Biologiska vetenskaper

Sammanfattning

In many birds, carotenoids have dual functions as irreversible plumage pigments and as physiologically essential vitamins and antioxidants. They must be obtained through the diet and may therefore be a limiting resource, a constraint that is likely to vary with factors such as sex, habitat, and time of year. In the present study, we investigated signs of carotenoid limitation in great tits, Parus major, in relation to sex, season, year, and within an urban versus a rural habitat. The two main carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, were analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography in the plasma and in the yellow carotenoid-based breast feathers. We found that plasma carotenoid concentrations were significantly influenced by sex, season, and year, but not by urban versus rural habitat. At moult, plasma concentration was positively correlated with feather pigmentation, independent of body condition and sex. During the breeding season, however, circulating carotenoid concentrations were negatively related to the feather pigmentation (i.e. from previous autumn moult). We suggest that great tits are carotenoid deprived before leaf emergence, and that carotenoid utilization and limitations are sex-specific, but that there are neither any obvious honesty-maintaining costs of pigmentation, nor any fitness consequences of the colour variation.

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