Divergent patterns of telomere shortening in tropical compared to temperate stonechats

Apfelbeck, B., Haussmann, M. F., Boner, W. , Flinks, H., Griffiths, K., Illera, J. C., Mortega, K. G., Sisson, Z., Smiddy, P. and Helm, B. (2019) Divergent patterns of telomere shortening in tropical compared to temperate stonechats. Ecology and Evolution, 9(1), pp. 511-521. (doi: 10.1002/ece3.4769) (PMID:30680132) (PMCID:PMC6342124)

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Telomeres have emerged as important biomarkers of health and senescence as they predict chances of survival in various species. Tropical birds live in more benign environments with lower extrinsic mortality and higher juvenile and adult survival than temperate birds. Therefore, telomere biology may play a more important role in tropical compared to temperate birds. We measured mean telomere length of male stonechats (Saxicola spp.) at four age classes from tropical African and temperate European breeding regions. Tropical and temperate stonechats had similarly long telomeres as nestlings. However, while in tropical stonechats pre‐breeding first‐years had longer telomeres than nestlings, in temperate stonechats pre‐breeding first‐years had shorter telomeres than nestlings. During their first breeding season, telomere length was again similar between tropical and temperate stonechats. These patterns may indicate differential survival of high‐quality juveniles in tropical environments. Alternatively, more favorable environmental conditions, that is, extended parental care, may enable tropical juveniles to minimize telomere shortening. As suggested by previous studies, our results imply that variation in life history and life span may be reflected in different patterns of telomere shortening rather than telomere length. Our data provide first evidence that distinct selective pressures in tropical and temperate environments may be reflected in diverging patterns of telomere loss in birds.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Apfelbeck, Dr Beate Anna and Haussmann, Professor Mark and Griffiths, Mrs Kate and Boner, Dr Winnie and Helm, Dr Barbara and Mortega, Miss Kim Geraldine
Authors: Apfelbeck, B., Haussmann, M. F., Boner, W., Flinks, H., Griffiths, K., Illera, J. C., Mortega, K. G., Sisson, Z., Smiddy, P., and Helm, B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Ecology and Evolution
ISSN (Online):2045-7758
Published Online:26 December 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Ecology and Evolution 9(1):511-521
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
654191Visiting ProfessorshipPatricia MonaghanLeverhulme Trust (LEVERHUL)VP2-2013-032RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED