Variable Effects of Yolk Androgens on Growth, Survival, and Immunity in Eastern Bluebird Nestlings

Kristen J. Navara, Geoffrey E. Hill, Mary T. Mendonça
2005 Physiological and Biochemical Zoology  
Female birds allocate androgens differentially within and among clutches, and it has been suggested that this is a strategy to maximize reproductive success. Only a few studies, however, have examined the effects of yolk testosterone (T) on the growth and development of nestlings, and none have reported on the immunological effects of yolk T nor have they examined several different effects in the same nestlings. To examine the effects of yolk T on nestling eastern bluebirds, we administered two
more » ... we administered two doses of exogenous T to bluebird eggs and measured the growth and immunological responsiveness in the resulting nestlings. We found that yolk T is detrimental to developing embryos, with hatching success decreasing with increasing doses of yolk T. Moderate doses of yolk T stimulated skeletal growth during the embryonic period, while high doses of yolk T resulted in nestlings that weighed more and were more mature at fledging but had a compromised T-cell immune response to phytohemagglutinin. These data suggest that the alteration of reproductive success through the allocation of yolk T is a complicated phenomenon that involves the integration of several physiological effects. Nestling Hormone Levels On day 10, the first day posthatch when a sufficient blood sample could be obtained, 60 mL of blood were taken from the
doi:10.1086/430689 pmid:15957111 fatcat:n3besz5dtjgcvglf5g4wfri5um