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Response to acute stress in the Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) during the breeding season and moult: relationships to gender, condition, and life-history stage

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Abstract:

Seasonal adjustments and individual responses to environmental perturbations have been well characterized in many passerine species but similar studies in other groups of birds are sparse. Larger-bodied and longer-lived avian species have different life-history strategies and different energy-storage and -utilization patterns. We investigated the response to capture stress in male and female Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) during the breeding season on montane rivers and during moult on coastal waterways of Washington State. Females arrived at the breeding grounds in better condition and had a smaller rise in circulating corticosterone during 1 h of restraint than males. As the breeding season progressed, body condition declined in females and their adrenocortical response to acute stress became more pronounced. A potentially disruptive environmental condition, high river flow during the breeding season, was not associated with lower nesting success, lower body condition indices, or higher corticosterone levels (baseline or maximum concentration). The maximum corticosterone concentration reached over 1 h of restraint was negatively correlated with body condition in females during the breeding season. Lastly, males and females had similar adrenocortical responses to capture and handling during moult. We relate differential responses to acute stress between males and females to different selective pressures during the breeding season.

Les ajustements saisonniers et les réactions individuelles aux perturbations environnementales ont été bien étudiées chez plusieurs passereaux, mais rarement chez d'autres groupes d'oiseaux. Les gros oiseaux et les oiseaux qui vivent longtemps ont des stratégies démographiques différentes et des patterns particuliers de stockage et d'utilisation de l'énergie. Nous avons étudié la réaction au stress relié à la capture chez des mâles et des femelles du canard arlequin (Histrionicus histrionicus), au cours de la saison de la reproduction sur des rivières de montagne et durant la mue sur les voies maritimes côtières de l'état de Washington. Les femelles arrivent en meilleure forme physique que les mâles sur les aires de reproduction; elles subissent une hausse de leur corticostérone en circulation moins grande que celle qui se produit chez les mâles au cours de 1 h de restriction physique. À mesure que progresse la saison de la reproduction, la condition physique des femelles se détériore et leur réaction adrénocorticale à un stress sévère devient plus marquée. Nous n'avons pas trouvé de corrélation entre une perturbation potentielle du milieu, soit l'augmentation du débit pendant la reproduction, et un succès plus mitigé de la nidification, des coefficients d'embonpoint moins élevés ou des concentrations plus grandes de coticostérone (concentration de base ou concentration maximale). La concentration maximale de corticostérone atteinte en 1 h de restriction physique est en corrélation négative avec la condition physique des femelles durant la saison de la reproduction. Enfin, les mâles et les femelles subissent des réactions adrénocorticales semblables à la capture et à la manipulation durant la mue. Nous attribuons les réactions différentes des mâles et des femelles à un stress important aux pressions de sélection différentes qui s'exercent sur eux durant la saison de la reproduction.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-08-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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