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Data from: A physiological signature of the cost of reproduction associated with parental care


Fowler, Melinda A.; Williams, Tony D. (2017), Data from: A physiological signature of the cost of reproduction associated with parental care, Dryad, Dataset,


Costs of reproduction are an integral and long-standing component of life-history theory, but we still know relatively little about the specific physiological mechanisms underlying these trade-offs. We experimentally manipulated workload during parental care in female European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) using attachment of radios and/or wing clipping and assessed measures of workload, current breeding productivity, future fecundity, and survival (local return rate) in relation to treatment. Females with wing clipping and radio attachment paid a clear cost of reproduction compared with all other treatment groups: they had lower future fecundity and lower return rates despite having lower current breeding productivity. We then measured 13 physiological traits, including measures of aerobic/metabolic capacity, oxidative stress and muscle damage, intermediary metabolism and energy supply, and immune function. Our results show that the cost of reproduction in females with wing clipping and radio attachment was associated with lower oxygen-carrying capacity (lower hematocrit and hemoglobin levels), lower energy reserves (plasma nonesterified fatty acid and triglyceride levels), decreased immune function (lower haptoglobin levels), and elevated levels of oxidative stress (higher levels of dROMs [reactive oxygen metabolites] and lower levels of the endogenous antioxidant uric acid). Our study provides evidence that costs of reproduction involve a widespread decline in physiological function across multiple physiological systems consistent with long-standing ideas of cumulative “wear and tear” and allostatic load.

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