Physiological ecology - Original research

Oecologia

, Volume 175, Issue 4, pp 1107-1116

First online:

Oxidative stress in relation to reproduction, contaminants, gender and age in a long-lived seabird

  • David CostantiniAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of AntwerpInstitute for Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow Email author 
  • , Alizée MeillèreAffiliated withCentre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC), UMR 7372 CNRS-Université de la Rochelle
  • , Alice CarravieriAffiliated withCentre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC), UMR 7372 CNRS-Université de la RochelleLittoral Environnement Sociétés (LIENSs), UMR 7266-CNRS, Université de La Rochelle
  • , Vincent LecomteAffiliated withCentre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC), UMR 7372 CNRS-Université de la Rochelle
  • , Gabriele SorciAffiliated withUMR – CNRS 6282 Biogéosciences, Université de Bourgogne
  • , Bruno FaivreAffiliated withUMR – CNRS 6282 Biogéosciences, Université de Bourgogne
  • , Henri WeimerskirchAffiliated withCentre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC), UMR 7372 CNRS-Université de la Rochelle
  • , Paco BustamanteAffiliated withLittoral Environnement Sociétés (LIENSs), UMR 7266-CNRS, Université de La Rochelle
  • , Pierre LabadieAffiliated withCNRS, EPOC, UMR 5805
    • , Hélène BudzinskiAffiliated withCNRS, EPOC, UMR 5805
    • , Olivier ChastelAffiliated withCentre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC), UMR 7372 CNRS-Université de la Rochelle

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Abstract

Reproduction is a demanding activity for animals, since they must produce, and in some cases protect and provision, their young. It is often overlooked that demands of reproduction may also be exacerbated by exposure to contaminants. In this study, we make use of an exceptional long-term dataset to perform a cross-sectional study on the long-lived wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) in order to test the effects of reproduction, persistent organic pollutants [POPs: pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)], mercury, individual age (3–47 years), and sex on the levels of plasma oxidative damage and inflammation. The results of our study support the hypothesis that oxidative damage may be a physiological cost of reproduction and that individuals carrying higher levels of organic or non-organic contaminants have higher oxidative damage. Levels of the inflammatory protein haptoglobin were similar between breeding and non-breeding birds, with the exception of breeding males which had the lowest levels of haptoglobin. Our data also show an effect of age and of organic contaminants on the plasma oxidative damage level, but not on plasma haptoglobin. In addition, plasma oxidative damage level increased with red blood cell mercury concentration in females but not in males. Hence, our study highlights that the harmful effects of contaminants may come through interaction with factors like life stage or gender, suggesting potential for high variation in susceptibility to contamination among individuals.

Keywords

Ageing Inflammation Mercury Oxidative stress POPs Reproduction Seabirds