The Effects of Acute Restraint Stress on Plasma Levels of Prolactin and Corticosterone across Life-History Stages in a Short-Lived Bird: Gambel's White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii)

Jesse S. Krause, Simone L. Meddle, John C. Wingfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The general reproductive effort model attempts to predict the resources that will be allocated to a current reproductive bout or to future survival by aborting the current reproductive attempt. Life-history theory predicts that short-lived species should devote more resources toward a reproductive event because brood value is far greater compared with that of long-lived species that have multiple breeding opportunities. Previous bird studies have used patterns of hormone secretion to understand the regulation of parental investment in response to environmental challenges, such as stress. The two key hormones investigated have been prolactin, which promotes parental investment, and corticosterone, which can reduce parental investment. Research on long-lived seabirds showed that prolactin levels decrease in response to a stressor, but the magnitude of the decline was positively correlated with future reproductive potential. However, little is known about the role of prolactin in short-lived species. Here we present prolactin and corticosterone data from a short-lived Arctic breeding, migratory songbird-the white-crowned sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii-at multiple stages of the breeding and nonbreeding seasons following standardized acute restraint stress. These data show that both prolactin and corticosterone are modulated seasonally. Corticosterone levels increased significantly in response to acute restraint stress during the breeding season in both sexes, but prolactin levels did not change in response to acute restraint stress at any stage of the annual cycle. We found no relationship between corticosterone or prolactin at either baseline or peak induced levels during any stage of breeding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-598
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Volume88
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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