Seasonal variation in diet quality: antioxidants, invertebrates and blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus

Arnold, K.E., Ramsay, S.L., Henderson, L. and Larcombe, S.D. (2010) Seasonal variation in diet quality: antioxidants, invertebrates and blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 99(4), pp. 708-717. (doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2010.01377.x)

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Breeding success is often dictated by the degree to which parents can synchronize the maximum food requirements of offspring to the peak in abundance of invertebrate prey. Less studied is how the nutritional quality of individual diet items impacts on breeding. In the present study, we assessed the abundance and antioxidant concentrations of arboreal arthropods from oak woodland and provisioning behaviour of the blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus. Dietary antioxidants are important during development because they defend against oxidative stress. Operophtera caterpillars, Erannis caterpillars, and spiders contained significantly different levels of individual carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol. Concentrations of lutein and beta-carotene in Operophtera caterpillars did not vary seasonally, although concentrations of zeaxanthin declined and alpha-tocopherol increased with date. Blue tit broods hatched later in the season received significantly fewer caterpillars and more spiders per chick compared to earlier broods. Reflecting changes in prey composition, blue tit nestling plasma showed decreases in zeaxanthin and increases in alpha-tocopherol with date. Thus, processes that shift the timing of breeding in birds and/or prey composition are likely to alter antioxidant intake and thus potentially influence the oxidative stress status of animals. The data obtained in the present study suggest a mechanism by which environmental change as a result of human activities could influence the health and fitness of individuals in natural populations.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ramsay, Dr Scot and Arnold, Dr Kathryn and Larcombe, Dr Stephen
Authors: Arnold, K.E., Ramsay, S.L., Henderson, L., and Larcombe, S.D.
Subjects:Q Science > Q Science (General)
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Journal Name:Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
ISSN (Online):1095-8312
Published Online:30 March 2010

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
324582Paternal attractiveness,maternal investment and offspring fitnessKathryn ArnoldRoyal Society (ROYSOC)UNSPECIFIEDBiochemistry & Cell Biology