The Journal of Experimental Biology
The Company of Biologists, Ltd.
Developing animals may face a cost–benefit tradeoff during growth mediated through hormones such as glucocorticoids, as the hormone is essential for development but can have detrimental consequences. To investigate potential tradeoffs caused by brief, moderate elevations of corticosterone in avian young, we artificially elevated the hormone levels in two ways: feeding corticosterone-containing worms and applying corticosterone dermal patches. The former experiment tested the effects of an acute corticosterone elevation (25 min) on begging behavior, whereas the latter explored the effects of artificially elevated corticosterone for 24 to 48 h on growth. Corticosterone altered both begging behavior and growth of white-crowned sparrow nestlings. It increased latency to beg immediately after the treatment and suppressed growth as early as 24 h after the patch application. These experiments also showed that the effects depended on the age or types of development (e.g. gaining mass or growing feathers) that the nestlings were going through.
Copyright 2008 The Company of Biologists