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Baseline and Stress‐Induced Plasma Corticosterone during Long‐Distance Migration in the Bar‐Tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica

Mėta M. Landys‐Ciannelli, Marilyn Ramenofsky, Theunis Piersma, Joop Jukema, Castricum Ringing Group and John C. Wingfield
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: Ecological and Evolutionary Approaches
Vol. 75, No. 1 (January/February 2002), pp. 101-110
DOI: 10.1086/338285
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/338285
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Baseline and Stress‐Induced Plasma Corticosterone during Long‐Distance Migration in the Bar‐Tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica
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Abstract

Abstract The specific roles of corticosterone in promotion of avian migration remain unclear even though this glucocorticosteroid is elevated in many migrating bird species. In general, glucocorticosteroids promote metabolic homeostasis and may elicit effects on feeding and locomotion. Because the migratory stages of refueling and flight are characterized by distinct behaviors and physiology, the determination of corticosterone levels during each stage should help identify potential processes in which corticosterone is involved. We measured baseline levels of corticosterone in bar‐tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica) during two distinct stages of migration: (1) immediately after arrival at a false stopover site just short of the Wadden Sea and (2) throughout the subsequent 4‐wk refueling period on the Wadden Sea. Plasma corticosterone was higher in arriving than in refueling birds. In addition, corticosterone increased with size‐corrected body mass during the refueling phase, suggesting that corticosterone rises as birds prepare to reinitiate flight. Therefore, elevated corticosterone appears associated with migratory flight and may participate in processes characterizing this stage. We also performed a capture stress protocol in all birds and found that corticosterone increased in both arriving and refueling godwits. Therefore, the normal course of migration may be typified by corticosterone concentrations that are lower than those associated with stressful and life‐threatening episodes.

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