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A physiological marker for quantifying differential reproductive investment between the sexes in Yellow-legged gulls (Larus michahellis)

AuthorsRamírez, Francisco ; Hobson, Keith A.; Wangensteen, Owen S. ; Genovart, Meritxell ; Viscor, Ginés; Sanpera, Carolina; Jover, Lluís
Issue Date2010
CitationJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 396: 48- 52 (2010)
AbstractAsymmetry between males and females in the energy they invest initially in reproduction has resulted in the evolution of differing reproductive strategies (caring females vs. competitive males). However, parental care in many birds is shared by both sexes suggesting that male energy expenditure in agonistic behaviors and courtship feeding might compensate female costs of clutch production. Here, we tested the hypothesis that initial investment in reproduction by both sexes in the Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis), a species with biparental care, is similar from a physiological perspective. In this income breeder, female and male reproductive investment during early breeding can be ultimately related to muscular activity (local foraging effort required for clutch production in females and courtship feeding and agonistic behaviors in the case of males). Thus, we evaluated sex-specific patterns of creatine kinase (CK, IU/L) levels in plasma, an indicator of physical effort associated with muscular activity dependent behaviors, through incubation as a reflection of the physiological response of both sexes to the reproductive investment they made up to clutch completion. Raw levels of CK were related to plasma levels of total proteins (TP, g/dL) to account for the differential physiological state of individuals when sampled (i.e. differential dehydratation). Female costs of clutch production were associated with post-laying levels of CK/TP. We grouped females according to their relative investment in clutch production: <15.8%, 15.8 to 17.3% and >17.3% of field metabolic rate; which showed increasing values of CK/TP (24.6, 53.1 and 66.0. IU/g, respectively). Moreover, we found similar CK/TP trends throughout incubation for both sexes (CK/TP = 50.2? [3.3 × days from laying]) suggesting similar physiological responses to reproductive effort and, therefore, analogous sex-specific initial investment. Thus, male investment in agonistic behaviors and courtship feeding apparently equaled female investment in clutch production. The use of CK measurements is revealed as a useful approach to investigating overall investment in reproduction for both sexes, providing further insights into our comprehension of reproductive strategies in seabirds. © Elsevier B.V.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2010.09.012
issn: 0022-0981
Appears in Collections:(IMEDEA) Artículos
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