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Title

Diet Explains Interpopulation Variation of Plasma Carotenoids and Skin Pigmentation in Nestling White Storks

AuthorsNegro, Juan J. ; Tella, José Luis ; Blanco, Guillermo ; Forero, Manuela G. ; Garrido Fernández, J.
Issue DateJan-2000
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
CitationPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology 73(1):97–101 (2000)
AbstractCarotenoids have a dietary origin in birds, but mechanisms by which they are absorbed in the gut, transported in the blood, metabolized at various sites, and deposited in the integument remain poorly understood. Variation in both plasma carotenoid levels and external color may reflect different access to dietary carotenoids or individual physiological differences in the uptake and deposition of carotenoids. We compared total plasma ca- rotenoid concentration in nestling white storks (Ciconia ci- conia) from 11 Spanish colonies in two consecutive years. The main food item in one of the colonies was the red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), a recently introduced species. Storks in the remaining colonies ate a variety of foods but no crayfish. Total plasma carotenoid levels in the colony where crayfish were consumed were about five times higher than in any other colony. These differences were maintained after con- trolling for the significant interyear variability, as well as for sex, age, and body mass of birds. Skin pigmentation also dif- fered, being intensely orange in storks that consumed crayfish but white (unpigmented) in the remaining individuals. With thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and electronic absorption spectroscopy, astaxanthin was confirmed as the major carote- noid in crayfish as well as in the plasma, skin, and body fat of crayfish-eating storks, whereas lutein was the main carotenoid
Publisher version (URL)http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/316724
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/34929
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