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journal contribution
posted on 30.11.2018 by Stefania Casagrande, Michaela Hau
The trade-off between reproductive investment and survival is central to life-history theory, but the relative importance and the complex interactions among the physiological mechanisms mediating it are still debated. Here we experimentally tested whether baseline glucocorticoid hormones, the redox system or their interaction mediate reproductive investment–survival trade-offs in wild great tits (Parus major). We increased the workload of parental males by clipping three feathers on each wing, and 5 days later determined effects on baseline corticosterone concentrations (Cort), redox state (reactive oxygen metabolites, protein carbonyls, glutathione peroxidase [GPx], total non-enzymatic antioxidants), body mass, body condition, reproductive success and survival. Feather-clipping did not affect fledgling numbers, chick body condition, nest provisioning rates or survival compared with controls. However, feather-clipped males lost mass and increased both Cort and GPx concentrations. Within feather-clipped individuals, GPx increases were positively associated with reproductive investment, (i.e. male nest provisioning). Furthermore, within all individuals, males that increased GPx suffered reduced survival rates. Baseline Cort increases were related to mass loss but not to redox state, nest provisioning or male survival. Our findings provide experimental evidence that changes in the redox system are associated with the trade-off between reproductive investment and survival, while baseline Cort may support this trade-off indirectly through a link with body condition. These results also emphasize that plastic changes in individuals, rather than static levels of physiological signals, may mediate life-history trade-offs.