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Title

Carotenoids in nestling Montagu's harriers: variations according to age, sex, body condition and evidence for diet-related limitations

AuthorsSternalski, Audrey ; Mougeot, François ; Bretagnolle, Vincent
KeywordsMontagu’s harrier
Vole
Circus
Condition dependence
Carotenoid-based coloration
Issue Date2010
PublisherSpringer
CitationJournal of Comparative Physiology B 180(1): 33-43 (2010)
AbstractCarotenoids are colored pigments forming the basis of many avian social traits. Before their utilization carotenoids must be acquired through diet and mobilized for specific uses. The relationships between carotenoid-based coloration, circulating carotenoids and body condition have been well studied in adult birds, but little is known in nestlings. Here, we investigated variations in carotenoid-based coloration in a raptor nestling, the Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), both in captivity and in natural conditions, and within a vole (poor-carotenoid source and cyclic prey) specialist population. We studied these variations according to nestling age and sex, and possible limitations in carotenoid availability by comparing years of contrasted prey abundance and using carotenoid supplementation experiments. Captive nestlings, fed only with mice, were strongly carotenoid limited. Wild nestlings were also carotenoid limited, especially in a year of high vole abundance. Nestlings were in better condition but less colored during a peak vole abundance year than during a low vole abundance year, when harriers targeted more alternative preys (birds, insects). Thus, variation in vole abundance resulted in a de-coupling of body condition and carotenoid-based coloration in this population. This suggested that the positive relation between the body condition and carotenoid-based traits, typically found in adult birds, could be restricted to adults or nestlings of species that feed on carotenoid-rich food. Our results should stimulate more work on the functions and mechanisms of carotenoid-based traits in nestlings, which deserve more attention and most likely differ from those of adult birds. © Springer-Verlag 2009.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/144112
DOIhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00360-009-0384-y
Identifiersdoi: 10.1007/s00360-009-0384-y
issn: 0174-1578
e-issn: 1432-136X
Appears in Collections:(EEZA) Artículos
(IREC) Artículos
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