Zoology

Seabird stress response is oceans apart

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
502,
Page:
144
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/502144a
Published online

Seabirds that lay more eggs and die young are more likely to look after their chicks in times of stress than are longer-lived, less-fertile birds.

Jannik Schultner of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and his colleagues implanted Atlantic and Pacific populations of black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) with tubes of corticosterone, a hormone associated with food shortages.

Compared with Atlantic kittiwakes, Pacific populations of the bird have fewer offspring and higher adult survival rates. Pacific kittiwakes with artificially boosted hormones neglected their young, so their chicks were more likely to die than Atlantic ones. Extra hormones had the opposite effect on the Atlantic colony, and actually increased chick survival rates.

Animals' life strategies can predict their short-term responses to stress, the authors suggest.

CYRIL RUOSO/JH EDITORIAL/MINDEN PICTURES/GETTY

Proc. R. Soc. B 280, 20132090 (2013)

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