, Volume 183, Issue 3, pp 653–666 | Cite as

Linking pre-laying energy allocation and timing of breeding in a migratory arctic raptor

  • Vincent Lamarre
  • Alastair Franke
  • Oliver P. Love
  • Pierre Legagneux
  • Joël Bêty
Physiological ecology - original research


For migratory species, acquisition and allocation of energy after arrival on the breeding grounds largely determine reproductive decisions. Few studies have investigated underlying physiological mechanisms driving variation in breeding phenology so far. We linked physiological state to individual timing of breeding in pre-laying arctic-nesting female peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus tundrius). We captured females from two populations 2–20 days before egg-laying to assess plasma concentration of β-hydroxybutyric acid (BUTY) and triglyceride (TRIG), two metabolites known to reflect short-term changes in fasting and fattening rate, respectively. We also assessed baseline corticosterone (CORTb), a hormone that mediates energy allocation, and the scaled mass index (SMI) as an indicator of somatic body reserves. Plasma BUTY was slightly higher during the pre-recruiting period compared to the period of rapid follicular growth, indicating a reduction in catabolism of lipid reserves before investment in follicle development. Conversely, TRIG levels increased in pre-recruiting females, and best-predicted individual variation in pre-laying interval and lay date. A marked increase in CORTb occurred concomitantly with the onset of rapid follicle growth. SMI was highly variable possibly reflecting variation in food availability or individuals at different stages. Results suggest that (1) lower rates of pre-laying fattening and/or lower mobilization rate of lipoproteins to ovarian follicles delayed laying, and (2) an elevation in pre-laying CORTb may result from, or be required to compensate for, the energetic costs of egg production. Results of this study illustrate how variation in the allocation of energy before laying can influence individual fitness-related reproductive decisions.


Energy allocation β-Hydroxybutyric acid Triglyceride Corticosterone Peregrine falcon 



All work was conducted under the following permits: Nunavut Wildlife Research Permit (WL 2011-038, WL 2012-042, WL 2013-034, WL 2014-034); Canadian Wildlife Service Banding Permit (10833); University of Alberta Animal Use Protocol (AUP00000042). We are especially grateful to Erik Hedlin, Andy Aliyak and Mark Prostor for their invaluable help with fieldwork. We also thank (alphabetical order): Matt Fredlund, Philippe Galipeau, Mikaël Jaffré, Pascal Pettigrew, Mike Qrunnut, Barry Robinson and Mathieu Tétreault for their contribution to field work. We thank Chris Harris for running the physiological assays. We are extremely grateful for the help and support that we received from the Government of Nunavut, Department of Environment, especially Chris Hotson, Drikus Gissing, and Mitch Campbell. We are indebted to personal at Agnico Eagle Mines Limited (AEM), in particular Stéphane Robert, Ryan Vanengen, Philip Roy, Alexandre Gauthier and Marcel Dumais. We thank the members of Kangiqliniq and Igloolik hunters and Trappers Organizations for their approval and ongoing support for this project. We would also like to thank Michael Shouldice and Dorothy Tootoo from the Arctic College, as well as the residents of Rankin Inlet and Igloolik. We would like to thank Guy Fitzgerald from the Union québécoise de réhabilitation des oiseaux de proie and Josée Tremblay from the Zoo sauvage de St-Félicien. Finally, we would like to thank Emma Vatka and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive suggestions and comments. This project was funded by ArcticNet (AF), the Government of Nunavut (AF), the Canadian Circumpolar Institute (AF), Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada (VL), and the Peregrine Fund (AF). Finally, VL was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Fond de Recherche du Québec, Nature et Technologies (FRQNT), the Garfield Weston Foundation and Mitacs Accelerate (AF; AEM industry partner) and analyses in OPL’s lab were supported by funding from NSERC Discovery and the Canada Research Chairs program.

Author contribution statement

JB and AF orginally formulated the idea. VL, JB and AF developed methodology. OPL advised on the choice of relevant physiological parameters and supervised laboratory analyses. AF and VL conducted fieldwork. VL, JB and PL performed statistical analyses. VL wrote the manuscript with the input of all co-authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de biologie, chimie et géographie et Centre d’études nordiquesUniversité du Québec à RimouskiRimouskiCanada
  2. 2.Arctic Raptors ProjectRankin InletCanada
  3. 3.Department of Biological Sciences and Great Lakes Institute for Environmental ResearchUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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