Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 182, Issue 7, pp 947–959 | Cite as

High levels of liver antioxidants are associated with life-history strategies characteristic of slow growth and high survival rates in birds

  • Ismael Galván
  • Johannes Erritzøe
  • Filiz Karadaş
  • Anders P. Møller
Original Paper


Antioxidants have a large potential to coevolve with life-histories because of their capacity to counteract the negative effects of free radicals on fitness. However, only a few studies have explored the association between antioxidant levels and life-history strategies comparing a large number of species. Here we used an extensive dataset of 125 species of birds to investigate the association between concentrations of antioxidants (carotenoids and vitamin E) in the liver, which is the main storage organ for fat-soluble antioxidants, and life-history and morphology. We found that high liver antioxidant concentrations were associated with life-history strategies characterized by “live slow, die old”, in clear contrast to previous studies reporting a relationship between high plasma antioxidants and life-histories characterized by “live fast, die young”. Thus, high carotenoid concentrations were present in species with large body, brain and egg sizes, high absolute metabolic rate and a resident lifestyle, while high vitamin E concentrations were present in species with large brain size and long life span and incubation period. Our results indicate that antioxidants and life-histories coevolve, and that this may be mediated by positive fitness consequences of the accumulation of liver antioxidants, as species with higher antioxidant levels live longer.


Carotenoids Life-history evolution Oxidative damage Senescence Vitamin E 



This manuscript was improved by comments from two anonymous reviewers. IG was supported by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (PIEF-GA-2009-252145) within the 7th European Community Framework Programme.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 468 kb)
360_2012_671_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (24 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ismael Galván
    • 1
  • Johannes Erritzøe
    • 2
  • Filiz Karadaş
    • 3
  • Anders P. Møller
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, CNRS UMR 8079Orsay CedexFrance
  2. 2.Taps Old RectoryChristiansfeldDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Animal ScienceUniversity of Yüzüncü YilVanTurkey

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