Title

Using Feather Corticosterone to Help Understand the Relationship Between Physiology and Nestling Growth in Mountain Bluebirds (Sialia currucoides)

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Early developmental stress has a variety of effects that can persist to adulthood. Understanding how animals alter their developmental trajectory in response to stress is therefore a crucial goal for biologists. Corticosterone (CORT) is the primary avian stress hormone that is secreted from the adrenal gland in response to a challenge. CORT is a useful tool for measuring condition, as it integrates changes in external condition with internal coping responses. Typically CORT is measured in blood samples, but this only allows for insight into physiology during the instant of the sampling. Extracting hormones from feathers is a new method that can give longer-term insight on nestling physiology. Feathers grow over long time periods, and CORT is deposited throughout growth making it an ideal tool to study hormone physiology over a significant portion of development. I will extract CORT from Mountain Bluebird nestling feathers using methods developed by Bortolotti et al. (2008). I will run the samples through a standard radioimmunoassay to measure CORT levels in each sample. Mountain Bluebird nestlings grow in a logistic pattern and I am interested in understanding when nestlings reach their peak growth rates and how CORT and other factors such as hatch date, brood size, and brood rank explain differences between individuals. To answer these questions, I will use 269 feather samples that were gathered from Mountain Bluebird nestlings during the summers of 2014 and 2015. This research will help us to understand how physiology is altering development and growth of nestlings experiencing different environmental factors.

Category

Life Sciences

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Apr 15th, 2:00 PM Apr 15th, 2:20 PM

Using Feather Corticosterone to Help Understand the Relationship Between Physiology and Nestling Growth in Mountain Bluebirds (Sialia currucoides)

Early developmental stress has a variety of effects that can persist to adulthood. Understanding how animals alter their developmental trajectory in response to stress is therefore a crucial goal for biologists. Corticosterone (CORT) is the primary avian stress hormone that is secreted from the adrenal gland in response to a challenge. CORT is a useful tool for measuring condition, as it integrates changes in external condition with internal coping responses. Typically CORT is measured in blood samples, but this only allows for insight into physiology during the instant of the sampling. Extracting hormones from feathers is a new method that can give longer-term insight on nestling physiology. Feathers grow over long time periods, and CORT is deposited throughout growth making it an ideal tool to study hormone physiology over a significant portion of development. I will extract CORT from Mountain Bluebird nestling feathers using methods developed by Bortolotti et al. (2008). I will run the samples through a standard radioimmunoassay to measure CORT levels in each sample. Mountain Bluebird nestlings grow in a logistic pattern and I am interested in understanding when nestlings reach their peak growth rates and how CORT and other factors such as hatch date, brood size, and brood rank explain differences between individuals. To answer these questions, I will use 269 feather samples that were gathered from Mountain Bluebird nestlings during the summers of 2014 and 2015. This research will help us to understand how physiology is altering development and growth of nestlings experiencing different environmental factors.