Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 181, Issue 1, pp 73–81 | Cite as

Oxidative damage and plasma antioxidant capacity in relation to body size, age, male sexual traits and female reproductive performance in the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis)

  • Gábor MarkóEmail author
  • David Costantini
  • Gábor Michl
  • János Török
Original Paper


The study of oxidative stress is a potential tool for studying the functional interactions among life history traits, sexual traits and physiological status in animals. In this study, we investigated relationships between measures of plasma oxidative status and male sexual traits, female reproductive investment and three other life history traits, in a wild population of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis). Flycatcher males with a larger white forehead patch had higher level of plasma antioxidant capacity. For females, clutch size was not associated with plasma oxidative status, but egg size was positively correlated with antioxidant capacity. The relationship between age and levels of plasma oxidative damage remains controversial in this species: young female flycatchers showed higher levels of hydroperoxides compared to antioxidants, whereas age did not predict oxidative status of males. Males had higher levels of oxidative damage than females, although the concentration of antioxidant compounds was similar between the sexes. Females that mated with more ornamented males had higher plasma antioxidant capacity. Our results suggest that, for males and females, greater investment in sexual signal and reproduction, respectively, does not reduce the capacity for self-maintenance or avoidance of oxidative stress. Finally, our data support indirectly the occurrence of assortative mating in our species, since females with higher plasma antioxidant capacity mated with more ornamented males.


Oxidative stress Free radicals Antioxidants Life history Trade off 



We thank Mia Hoogenboom, Celeste R. West-Pongrácz and Péter Pongrácz for their comments on previous versions of the manuscript and for the linguistic revision. We are grateful to the members of the Behavioural Ecology Group for their assistance during the fieldwork. This study was supported by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA, grants no. K75618), the Eötvös Loránd University and Pilis Park Forestry. DC was supported by a postdoctoral NERC research fellowship (NE/G013888/1) during manuscript preparation. DC thanks the International Observatory for Oxidative Stress (Salerno, Italy) for advice and support; Gianfranco Brambilla and Edoardo Vignolo for technical and logistical support at the ISS, Rome.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gábor Markó
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Costantini
    • 2
  • Gábor Michl
    • 1
  • János Török
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioural Ecology Group, Department of Systematic Zoology and EcologyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Division of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Biomedical and Life SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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