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Flight performance in the altricial zebra finch: Developmental effects and reproductive consequences

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The environmental conditions animals experience during development can have sustained effects on morphology, physiology, and behavior. Exposure to elevated levels of stress hormones (glucocorticoids, GCs) during development is one such condition that can have long‐term effects on animal phenotype. Many of the phenotypic effects of GC exposure during development (developmental stress) appear negative. However, there is increasing evidence that developmental stress can induce adaptive phenotypic changes. This hypothesis can be tested by examining the effect of developmental stress on fitness‐related traits. In birds, flight performance is an ideal metric to assess the fitness consequences of developmental stress. As fledglings, mastering takeoff is crucial to avoid bodily damage and escape predation. As adults, takeoff can contribute to mating and foraging success as well as escape and, thus, can affect both reproductive success and survival. We examined the effects of developmental stress on flight performance across life‐history stages in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Specifically, we examined the effects of oral administration of corticosterone (CORT, the dominant avian glucocorticoid) during development on ground‐reaction forces and velocity during takeoff. Additionally, we tested for associations between flight performance and reproductive success in adult male zebra finches. Developmental stress had no effect on flight performance at all ages. In contrast, brood size (an unmanipulated variable) had sustained, negative effects on takeoff performance across life‐history stages with birds from small broods performing better than birds from large broods. Flight performance at 100 days posthatching predicted future reproductive success in males; the best fliers had significantly higher reproductive success. Our results demonstrate that some environmental factors experienced during development (e.g. clutch size) have stronger, more sustained effects than others (e.g. GC exposure). Additionally, our data provide the first link between flight performance and a direct measure of reproductive success.

No MeSH data available.


Mean flight performance responses ±1 SEM for zebra finches from broods of four (white bars), five (gray bars), and six (black bars) at 30, 60, and 100 days posthatching for (a) takeoff velocity, (b) impulse, (c) peak ground‐reaction forces, and (d) flight velocity. **p < .001, *p < .05
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ece32775-fig-0005: Mean flight performance responses ±1 SEM for zebra finches from broods of four (white bars), five (gray bars), and six (black bars) at 30, 60, and 100 days posthatching for (a) takeoff velocity, (b) impulse, (c) peak ground‐reaction forces, and (d) flight velocity. **p < .001, *p < .05

Mentions: Brood size had strong effects on takeoff velocity (F2,59 = 9.94, p < .0001), ground‐reaction forces (F2,59 = 5.802, p = .005), flight velocity (F2,48 = 4.64, p = .014), and impulse (F2,59 = 5.510, p = .006), but these effects were highly dependent on the age of the birds. At 30 days posthatching, there were no differences in any flight performance parameter between birds from clutches of 4, 5, or 6 (F2 < 0.65, p > .53 for all). For birds 60 days posthatching, brood size had strong effects on ground‐reaction forces (F2 = 12.57, p = .001, Figure 5c), flight velocity (F2 = 5.12, p = .02, Figure 5d), and takeoff velocity (F2 = 5.57, p = .02, Figure 5a). There was a nonsignificant trend for brood size to affect impulse (F2 = 3.09, p = .08, Figure 5b). Birds from broods of 6 produced lower ground‐reaction forces during takeoff compared to birds from broods of 4 or 5 (p = .03, .001), had lower flight velocities than birds from broods of 5 (p = .006), and had lower takeoff velocities than birds from broods of 4 or 5 (p = .05, .008). At 100 days posthatching, brood size also affected takeoff velocity and impulse (F2,2 = 6.66, 5.33, p = .08, .02, respectively). Similar to the results of birds at 60 days posthatching, birds from broods of 6 had lower takeoff velocities compared to birds from broods of 4 and 5 (p = .03, .005, respectively). Birds from broods of 6 also had lower impulse compared to birds from broods of 5 (p = .005). There was a nonsignificant trend for clutch size to affect flight velocity (F2 = 3.22, p = .07) and no effect of brood size on ground‐reaction forces (F2 = 2.23, p = .14).


Flight performance in the altricial zebra finch: Developmental effects and reproductive consequences
Mean flight performance responses ±1 SEM for zebra finches from broods of four (white bars), five (gray bars), and six (black bars) at 30, 60, and 100 days posthatching for (a) takeoff velocity, (b) impulse, (c) peak ground‐reaction forces, and (d) flight velocity. **p < .001, *p < .05
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ece32775-fig-0005: Mean flight performance responses ±1 SEM for zebra finches from broods of four (white bars), five (gray bars), and six (black bars) at 30, 60, and 100 days posthatching for (a) takeoff velocity, (b) impulse, (c) peak ground‐reaction forces, and (d) flight velocity. **p < .001, *p < .05
Mentions: Brood size had strong effects on takeoff velocity (F2,59 = 9.94, p < .0001), ground‐reaction forces (F2,59 = 5.802, p = .005), flight velocity (F2,48 = 4.64, p = .014), and impulse (F2,59 = 5.510, p = .006), but these effects were highly dependent on the age of the birds. At 30 days posthatching, there were no differences in any flight performance parameter between birds from clutches of 4, 5, or 6 (F2 < 0.65, p > .53 for all). For birds 60 days posthatching, brood size had strong effects on ground‐reaction forces (F2 = 12.57, p = .001, Figure 5c), flight velocity (F2 = 5.12, p = .02, Figure 5d), and takeoff velocity (F2 = 5.57, p = .02, Figure 5a). There was a nonsignificant trend for brood size to affect impulse (F2 = 3.09, p = .08, Figure 5b). Birds from broods of 6 produced lower ground‐reaction forces during takeoff compared to birds from broods of 4 or 5 (p = .03, .001), had lower flight velocities than birds from broods of 5 (p = .006), and had lower takeoff velocities than birds from broods of 4 or 5 (p = .05, .008). At 100 days posthatching, brood size also affected takeoff velocity and impulse (F2,2 = 6.66, 5.33, p = .08, .02, respectively). Similar to the results of birds at 60 days posthatching, birds from broods of 6 had lower takeoff velocities compared to birds from broods of 4 and 5 (p = .03, .005, respectively). Birds from broods of 6 also had lower impulse compared to birds from broods of 5 (p = .005). There was a nonsignificant trend for clutch size to affect flight velocity (F2 = 3.22, p = .07) and no effect of brood size on ground‐reaction forces (F2 = 2.23, p = .14).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The environmental conditions animals experience during development can have sustained effects on morphology, physiology, and behavior. Exposure to elevated levels of stress hormones (glucocorticoids, GCs) during development is one such condition that can have long&#8208;term effects on animal phenotype. Many of the phenotypic effects of GC exposure during development (developmental stress) appear negative. However, there is increasing evidence that developmental stress can induce adaptive phenotypic changes. This hypothesis can be tested by examining the effect of developmental stress on fitness&#8208;related traits. In birds, flight performance is an ideal metric to assess the fitness consequences of developmental stress. As fledglings, mastering takeoff is crucial to avoid bodily damage and escape predation. As adults, takeoff can contribute to mating and foraging success as well as escape and, thus, can affect both reproductive success and survival. We examined the effects of developmental stress on flight performance across life&#8208;history stages in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Specifically, we examined the effects of oral administration of corticosterone (CORT, the dominant avian glucocorticoid) during development on ground&#8208;reaction forces and velocity during takeoff. Additionally, we tested for associations between flight performance and reproductive success in adult male zebra finches. Developmental stress had no effect on flight performance at all ages. In contrast, brood size (an unmanipulated variable) had sustained, negative effects on takeoff performance across life&#8208;history stages with birds from small broods performing better than birds from large broods. Flight performance at 100&nbsp;days posthatching predicted future reproductive success in males; the best fliers had significantly higher reproductive success. Our results demonstrate that some environmental factors experienced during development (e.g. clutch size) have stronger, more sustained effects than others (e.g. GC exposure). Additionally, our data provide the first link between flight performance and a direct measure of reproductive success.

No MeSH data available.