Wild jackdaws’ reproductive success and their offspring’s stress hormones are connected to provisioning rate and brood size, not to parental neophobia
General and Comparative Endocrinology
Open Access funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Under a Creative Commons license © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Many species show individual variation in neophobia and stress hormones, but the causes and consequences of this variation in the wild are unclear. Variation in neophobia levels could affect the number of offspring animals produce, and more subtly influence the rearing environment and offspring development. Nutritional deficits during development can elevate levels of stress hormones that trigger long-term effects on learning, memory, and survival. Therefore measuring offspring stress hormone levels, such as corticosterone (CORT), helps determine if parental neophobia influences the condition and developmental trajectory of young. As a highly neophobic species, jackdaws (Corvus monedula) are excellent for exploring the potential effects of parental neophobia on developing offspring. We investigated if neophobic responses, alongside known drivers of fitness, influence nest success and offspring hormone responses in wild breeding jackdaws. Despite its consistency across the breeding season, and suggestions in the literature that it should have importance for reproductive fitness, parental neophobia did not predict nest success, provisioning rates or offspring hormone levels. Instead, sibling competition and poor parental care contributed to natural variation in stress responses. Parents with lower provisioning rates fledged fewer chicks, chicks from larger broods had elevated baseline CORT levels, and chicks with later hatching dates showed higher stress-induced CORT levels. Since CORT levels may influence the expression of adult neophobia, variation in juvenile stress responses could explain the development and maintenance of neophobic variation within the adult population.
This work was supported by the Gates Cambridge Trust to ALG and two separate BBSRC David Phillips Fellowships to KAS and AT (BB/L002264/1 and BB/H021817/1).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 243, pp. 70 - 77