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Plumage ornaments and reproductive investment in relation to oxidative status in the Iberian Pied Flycatcher (Ficedulahypoleuca iberiae)

López-Arrabé, Jimena, Cantarero, Alejandro, Pérez-Rodríguez, Lorenzo, Palma, Antonio, Moreno, Juan
Canadian journal of zoology 2014 v.92 no.12 pp. 1019-1027
Ficedula hypoleuca, antioxidants, birds, blood lipids, erythrocytes, females, glutathione, life history, males, malondialdehyde, nestlings, oxidative stress, plumage, reproduction, wings
A key aspect in the study of plumage traits with a potential role in communication is the cost associated with trait production and maintenance, expressed in terms of oxidative stress. In the Iberian Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca iberiae (Witherby, 1928)), males and some females exhibit a white forehead patch and both sexes present conspicuous white patches on the wings. We examined associations between these plumage ornaments and their ability to cope with oxidative stress. Furthermore, we explored oxidative costs of reproductive investment. Total antioxidant status (TAS) in plasma and glutathione (tGSH) levels in red blood cells, as well as a marker of oxidative damage in plasma lipids (malondialdehyde (MDA)), were assessed simultaneously for the first time in studies of avian reproduction. We found negative associations between antioxidants and ornaments in incubating females, although this relationship was positive while feeding nestlings. For males, MDA levels were negatively associated with ornaments, while TAS showed a positive relation. Female MDA showed a positive correlation with intensity of incubation attendance, while this relation was negative for tGSH levels. These results indicate that multiple achromatic plumage ornaments signal the individual capacity to cope with costs related to oxidative stress. Moreover, this study highlights the critical role of incubation for avian life histories.