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Title

Corticosterone implants produce stress-hyporesponsive birds

AuthorsTorres-Medina, Fernando; Cabezas, Sonia; Marchant, Tracy; Wikelski, Martin; Romero, L.M.; Hau, Michaela; Carrete, Martina ; Tella, José Luis ; Blas, Julio
Issue Date2018
PublisherCompany of Biologists
CitationJournal of Experimental Biology 221 (2018)
AbstractIn birds, the use of corticosterone (Cort) implants is a frequent tool aimed at simulating systemic elevations of this hormone and studying effects on biological traits (e.g. physiology, morphology, behavior). This manipulation may alter adrenocortical function, potentially changing both baseline (Cort) and stress-induced (Cort) plasma Cort levels. However, implant effects on the latter trait are rarely measured, disregarding downstream consequences of potentially altered stress responses. Here, we analyzed the effects of Cort implants on both Cort and Cort in nestling and adult European white storks, Ciconia ciconia. In addition, we performed a review of 50 studies using Cort implants in birds during the last two decades to contextualize stork results, assess researchers' patterns of use and infer current study biases. High and low doses of Cort implants resulted in a decrease of both Cort (31-71% below controls) and Cort (63-79% below controls) in storks. Our literature review revealed that Cort generally increases (72% of experiments) whereas Cort decreases (78% of experiments) following implant treatment in birds. Our results challenge and expand the prevailing assumption that Cort implants increase circulating Cort levels because: (i) Cort levels show a quadratic association with implant dose across bird species, and decreased levels may occur at both high and low implant doses, and (ii) Cort implants also decrease Cort levels, thus producing stresshyporesponsive phenotypes. It is time to work towards a better understanding of the effects of Cort implants on adrenocortical function, before addressing downstream links to variation in other biological traits.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.173864
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/201691
Identifiersdoi: 10.1242/jeb.173864
issn: 0022-0949
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