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Relationships between avian malaria resilience and corticosterone, testosterone and prolactin in a Hawaiian songbird

Citation

Names, Gabrielle et al. (2021), Relationships between avian malaria resilience and corticosterone, testosterone and prolactin in a Hawaiian songbird, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.25338/B8M05Z

Abstract

Glucocorticoids, androgens, and prolactin regulate metabolism and reproduction, but they also play critical roles in immunomodulation. Since the introduction of avian malaria to Hawaii a century ago, low elevation populations of the Hawaii Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens) that have experienced strong selection by avian malaria have evolved increased resilience (the ability to recover from infection), while high elevation populations that have undergone weak selection remain less resilient. We investigated how variation in malaria selection has affected corticosterone, testosterone, and prolactin hormone levels in Amakihi during the breeding season. We predicted that baseline corticosterone and testosterone (which have immunosuppressive functions) would be reduced in low elevation and malaria-infected birds, while stress-induced corticosterone and prolactin (which have immunostimulatory functions) would be greater in low elevation and malaria-infected birds. As predicted, prolactin was significantly higher in malaria-infected than uninfected females (although more robust sample sizes would help to confirm this relationship), while testosterone trended higher in malaria-infected than uninfected males and, surprisingly, neither baseline nor stress-induced CORT varied with malaria infection. Contrary to our predictions, stress-induced corticosterone was significantly lower in low than high elevation birds while testosterone in males and prolactin in females did not vary by elevation, suggesting that Amakihi hormone modulation across elevation is determined by variables other than disease selection (e.g., timing of breeding, energetic challenges). Our results shed new light on relationships between introduced disease and hormone modulation, and they raise new questions that could be explored in experimental settings.

Usage Notes

The corresponding AMAKIHIHORMONES_readme.txt file contains information about each variable included in the dataset, including units, how it was obtained and/or how it was calculated. NA represents data that is not available. Additional information about how data was obtained can be found in the corresponding manuscript.

Funding

Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation, Award: ARCS Fellowship

University of California Davis, Award: Richard G. Cost Wildlife Research Award

Explorers Club, Award: Exploration Fund Grant

American Museum of Natural History, Award: Frank M. Chapman Memorial Fund

Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France in the United States, Award: Chateaubriand Fellowship

University of California Davis, Award: Graduate Research Mentorship Fellowship

University of California Davis, Award: Endowed Chair in Physiology to John C. Wingfield

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Award: NA