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Developmental stress and telomere dynamics in a genetically polymorphic species
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
A central objective of evolutionary biology is understanding variation in life-history trajectories and the rate of aging, or senescence. Senescence can be affected by trade-offs and behavioural strategies in adults but may also be affected by developmental stress. Developmental stress can accelerate telomere degradation, with long-term longevity and fitness consequences. Little is known regarding whether variation in developmental stress and telomere dynamics contributes to patterns of senescence during adulthood. We investigated this question in the dimorphic white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), a species in which adults of the two morphs exhibit established differences in behavioural strategy and patterns of senescence, and also evaluated the relationship between oxidative stress and telomere length. Tan morph females, which exhibit high levels of unassisted parental care, display faster reproductive senescence than white females, and faster actuarial senescence than all of the other morph-sex classes. We hypothesized that high oxidative stress and telomere attrition in tan female nestlings could contribute to this pattern, since tan females are small and potentially at a competitive disadvantage even as nestlings. Nestlings that were smaller than nest mates had higher oxidative stress, and nestlings with high oxidative stress and fast growth rates displayed shorter telomeres. However, we found no consistent morph-sex differences in oxidative stress or telomere length. Results suggest that oxidative stress and fast growth contribute to developmental telomere attrition, with potential ramifications for adults, but that developmental oxidative stress and telomere dynamics do not account for morph-sex differences in senescence during adulthood.
Journal: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Pages: 134 - 143
Keywords:Genetics & developmental biology, Pure & applied ecology