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Telomere length and dynamics of spotless starling nestlings depend on nest building materials used by parents [Dataset]

AutorSoler, Juan José ; Ruiz-Castellano, Cristina ; Figuerola, Jordi ; Martín-Vivaldi, Manuel; Martínez de la Puente, Josué ; Ruiz-Rodríguez, Magdalena ; Tomás, Gustavo
Palabras claveSexual selection
Telomere dynamics
Antimicrobial properties
Carnus flies
Green plants
Hatching date
Nest-building behaviour
Nest-dwelling ectoparasites
Fecha de publicación2017
ResumenNest materials used by animals can have profound effects on developing offspring. They can modify the bacterial and parasitic environment of the nest, and can influence parental investment through sexual signalling processes. In spotless starlings, Sturnus unicolor, green plants and feathers are known nest materials with such functions. The aim of our study was to experimentally assess their influence on nestlings’ telomere length and attrition, which are good predictors of their survival prospects. In a full-factorial experiment, we explored these effects in two different populations, together with the potential effects of hatching date, ectoparasitism, bacterial environment and nestling growth. Telomere length and attrition largely depended on population identity and hatching date. After correcting for these effects, the addition of feathers resulted in higher rates of telomere attrition. The addition of plants did not affect nestling telomeres in general, but did in interaction with location: in Hueneja, the experimental addition of green plants resulted in longer telomeres. Feather pigmentation also did not affect telomere length or attrition in general, but did in interaction with location: in Hueneja, the experimental addition of unpigmented feathers resulted in nestlings with longer telomeres and lower attrition rates. Moreover, prevalence of staphylococci on the skin of 8-day-old nestlings was negatively related to telomere lengths of fledglings. Taken together, these results suggest a direct link between nest material composition and nestling telomere length and dynamics. This relationship could be partially mediated by the antimicrobial and/or antiparasitic properties of nest materials or by sexual signalling
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