Journal of Ornithology

, 151:251 | Cite as

Age-specific variation of resistance to oxidative stress in the greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber roseus)

  • Godefroy DeveveyEmail author
  • Nadia Bruyndonckx
  • Friederike von Houwald
  • Adelheid Studer-Thiersch
  • Philippe Christe
Short Note


Birds exhibit exceptional longevity and are thus regarded as a convenient model to study the intrinsic mechanisms of aging. The oxidative stress theory of aging suggests that individuals age because molecules, cells, tissues, organs, and, ultimately, animals accumulate oxidative damage over time. Accumulation of damage progressively reduces the level of antioxidant defences that are expected to decline with age. To test this theory, we measured the resistance of red blood cells to free radical attack in a captive population of greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber roseus) of known age ranging from 0.3 to 45 years. We observed a convex relationship with young adults (12–20 years old) having greater resistance to oxidative stress than immature flamingos (5 months old) and old flamingos (30–45 years old). Our results suggest that the antioxidant detoxifying system must go through a maturation process before being completely functional. It then declines in older adults, supporting the oxidative theory of aging. Oxidative stress could hence play a significant role in shaping the pattern of senescence in a very long-lived bird species.


Antioxidant defences Oxidative stress Phoenicopterus ruber roseus Senescence 



The experiments described herein comply with the current laws of Switzerland. This research was supported by grant 3100AO-104118 from the Swiss National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Godefroy Devevey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nadia Bruyndonckx
    • 1
  • Friederike von Houwald
    • 2
  • Adelheid Studer-Thiersch
    • 2
  • Philippe Christe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Zoological Garden BaselBaselSwitzerland

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