Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Stress physiology of Wandering Albatrosses gets studied

David Costantini (Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium) and colleagues have published in the online and open-access journal PloS One on the stress physiology of Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans of known breeding history.

One of the major challenges in ecological research is the elucidation of physiological mechanisms that underlie the demographic traits of wild animals.  We have assessed whether a marker of plasma oxidative stress (TBARS) and plasma haptoglobin (protein of the acute inflammatory phase response) measured at time t predict five demographic parameters (survival rate, return rate to the breeding colony, breeding probability, hatching and fledging success) in sexually mature wandering albatrosses over the next four years (Diomedea exulans) using a five-year individual-based dataset.  Non-breeder males, but not females, having higher TBARS at time t had reduced future breeding probabilities; haptoglobin was not related to breeding probability.  Neither TBARS nor haptoglobin predicted future hatching or fledging success.  Haptoglobin had a marginally positive effect on female survival rate, while TBARS had a marginally negative effect on return rate.  Our findings do not support the role for oxidative stress as a constraint of future reproductive success in the albatross.  However, our data point to a potential mechanism underlying some aspects of reproductive senescence and survival.  Our results also highlight that the study of the consequences of oxidative stress should consider the life-cycle stage of an individual and its reproductive history.


Displaying Wandering Albatrosses, photograph by Rowan Treblico


Costantini, D., Goutte, A., Barbraud, C., Faivre, B., Sorci, G., Weimerskirch, H., Delord, K. & Chastel, O.  2015.  Demographic responses to oxidative stress and inflammation in the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans).  PloS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133967.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 September 2015

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