Oxidative cost of reproduction is sex specific and correlated with reproductive effort in a cooperatively breeding bird, the Florida scrub jay

Physiol Biochem Zool. Sep-Oct 2012;85(5):499-503. doi: 10.1086/666840. Epub 2012 Jul 27.


Reproduction is energetically demanding, and how much an individual is able to invest in reproduction is often a function of its health state. An understanding of the relationship between oxidative balance and reproductive decisions, especially in free-living species, is still very limited. We evaluated the relationship between oxidative health and reproductive effort in a free-living population of the cooperatively breeding Florida scrub jay Aphelocoma coerulescens. Specifically, we assessed whether prebreeding oxidative damage levels predicted reproductive effort and subsequently whether postbreeding oxidative damage levels reflected reproductive effort. Prebreeding oxidative damage levels were negatively correlated with reproductive effort in males. In males, postbreeding levels of oxidative damage were significantly greater than prebreeding levels. Given that females exhibited no such patterns, our results suggest that in this species, males bear the brunt of the oxidative costs associated with reproduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Male
  • Protein Carbonylation*
  • Reproduction*
  • Songbirds / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Proteins