Reproductive effort affects oxidative status and stress in an Antarctic penguin species: An experimental studyReport as inadecuate

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The oxidative cost of reproduction has been a matter of debate in recent years presumably because of the lack of proper experimental studies. Based on the hypothesis that different brood sizes produce differential reproductive costs, an experimental manipulation during breeding of Adélie penguins was conducted at Hope Bay, Antarctica, to study oxidative status and stress. We predict that a lower reproductive effort should be positively related to low oxidative and physiological stress. We randomly assigned nests with two chicks to a control reproductive effort group CRE, and by removing one chick from some nests with two chicks, formed a second, low reproductive effort group LRE. We examined how oxidative status in blood plasma reactive oxygen metabolites, ROMs, and total antioxidant capacity, OXY and stress heterophil-lymphocyte ratio, H-L responded to a lower production of offspring total biomass. Our nest manipulation showed significant differences in offspring total biomass, which was lower in the LRE group. As predicted, the LRE group had higher antioxidant capacity than individuals in the CRE group. We have also found, although marginally significant, interactions between sex and treatment in the three variables analysed. Females had higher OXY, lower ROMs and lower H-L ratio when rearing one chick, whereas males did so when rearing two except for OXY which was high regardless of treatment. Moreover, there was a significant negative correlation between the H-L ratio and OXY in females. Finally, we have found a negative and significant relationship between the duration of the experiment and OXY and ROMs and positive with H-L ratio which suggests that indeed breeding penguins are paying an effort in physiological terms in relation to the duration of the chick rearing. In conclusion, a reduction of the reproductive effort decreased oxidative stress in this long-lived bird meaning that a link exists between breeding effort and oxidative stress. However, our findings suggest different sex strategies which results in opposite physiological responses presumably depending on different life-history strategies in males and females.

Author: Roger Colominas-Ciuró , Mercedes Santos, Néstor Coria, Andrés Barbosa



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