Breeding success in relation to telomere length in a long-lived seabird, the Antarctic Petrel (Thalassoica antarctica)
Integrating information about the physiology of individuals and their reproductive performance can be a key aspect in determining the relationships between environmental conditions and demographic parameters, and of the individual variability in these relationships. Telomeres are the protective caps of chromosomes found in eukaryotic cells. They generally shorten in relation to the stressors an individual encounters during its life. Telomere length and telomere dynamics can provide ecologists with an overview of the physiological state of an individual. In order to understand the relationship between telomere length and breeding success, and to explore the change of telomere length with time, we measured telomere length in erythrocytes of wild Antarctic petrels (Thalassoica Antarctica) in a longitudinal study covering three field seasons. Our models do not support any relationship between telomere length and breeding success. Telomere loss was small (2.7% of the total range of variation of the telomere variable of the birds in this study). Additionally, we found a potential negative selection of long telomere birds during a breeding season with extreme weather events. We provide suggestions that could help tease apart the effect of environmental vs. individual factors on breeding success.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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