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Data from: Do parasites and antioxidant availability affect begging behaviour, growth rate and resistance to oxidative stress?


Maronde, Lea; Losdat, Sylvain; Richner, Heinz (2018), Data from: Do parasites and antioxidant availability affect begging behaviour, growth rate and resistance to oxidative stress?, Dryad, Dataset,


Early-life trade-offs faced by developing offspring can have long-term consequences for their future fitness. Young offspring use begging displays to solicit resources from their parents and have been selected to grow fast to maximize survival. However, growth and begging behaviour are generally traded-off against self-maintenance. Oxidative stress, a physiological mediator of life-history trade-offs, may play a major role in this trade-off by constraining, or being costly to, growth and begging behaviour. Yet, despite implications for the evolution of life-history strategies and parent-offspring conflicts, the interplay between growth, begging behaviour and resistance to oxidative stress remains to be investigated. We experimentally challenged wild great tit (Parus major) offspring by infesting nests with a common ectoparasite, the hen flea (Ceratophyllus gallinae), and simultaneously tested for compensating effects of increased vitamin E availability, a common dietary antioxidant. We further quantified the experimental treatment effects on offspring growth, begging intensity and oxidative stress. Flea-infested nestlings of both sexes showed reduced body mass during the first half of the nestling phase but this effect vanished short before fledging. Begging intensity and oxidative stress of both sexes were unaffected by both experimental treatments. Feeding rates were not affected by the experimental treatments but parents of flea-infested nests fed nestlings with a higher proportion of caterpillars, the main source of antioxidants. Additionally, female nestlings begged significantly less than males in control nests, while both sexes begged at similar rates in vitamin E supplemented nests. Our study shows that a parasite exposure does not necessarily affect oxidative stress levels or begging intensity, but suggests that parents can compensate for negative effects of parasitism by modifying food composition. Furthermore, our results indicate that the begging capacity of the less competitive sex is constrained by antioxidant availability.

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