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Circulating carotenoid levels are negatively associated with previous reproductive success in Florida Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens)

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The relationship between individual fitness and antioxidants and oxidative stress has come under increasing scrutiny of late. In particular, associations between oxidative balance indicators and reproductive success in the wild have been inconsistent in the limited prior work on this topic. Studies spanning multiple seasons and antioxidant types are particularly lacking. Here, we examined associations between reproductive success over two breeding seasons and several metrics of circulating antioxidants (antioxidant capacity, uric acid, carotenoids, and vitamin E, measured in the intervening nonbreeding season) in Florida Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens (Bosc, 1795)). We found that carotenoid levels in the nonbreeding season were negatively associated with reproductive success in the preceding breeding season but unassociated with that in the subsequent breeding season. This correlation may be driven by the cost of reproduction (i.e., carotenoid depletion while breeding) or some other unmeasured and intercorrelated variable such as diet. Antioxidant capacity, uric acid, and vitamin E were not associated with reproductive success. These data are consistent with an emerging theme in physiological ecology: that antioxidants and oxidative stress are but one part of a suite of integrative physiological systems that interact and trade-off in complex ways, making full understanding of their ecological roles challenging.

Keywords: Aphelocoma coerulescens; Florida Scrub-Jays; acide urique; antioxidant; antioxydant; fitness; geai à gorge blanche; reproduction; uric acid; valeur adaptative; vitamin E; vitamine E

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Groupe de Recherche PRIMUS, Université de Sherbrooke, 3001, 12, avenue Nord, Sherbrooke, QC J1H 5N4, Canada. 2: Avian Ecology Lab, Archbold Biological Station, 123 Main Drive, Venus, FL 33960, USA. 3: Avian Ecology Lab, Archbold Biological Station, 123 Main Drive, Venus, FL 33960, USA, and Department of Biology, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA. 4: Department of Biology, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA, and Oklahoma Biological Survey, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA. 5: Department of Biology, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA. 6: School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA.

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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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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