Nestling Erythrocyte Resistance to Oxidative Stress Predicts Fledging Success but Not Local Recruitment in a Wild Bird

Biol Lett. 2013 Feb 23;9(1):20120888. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0888. Epub 2012 Oct 24.


Stressful conditions experienced by individuals during their early development have long-term consequences on various life-history traits such as survival until first reproduction. Oxidative stress has been shown to affect various fitness-related traits and to influence key evolutionary trade-offs but whether an individual's ability to resist oxidative stress in early life affects its survival has rarely been tested. In the present study, we used four years of data obtained from a free-living great tit population (Parus major; n = 1658 offspring) to test whether pre-fledging resistance to oxidative stress, measured as erythrocyte resistance to oxidative stress and oxidative damage to lipids, predicted fledging success and local recruitment. Fledging success and local recruitment, both major correlates of survival, were primarily influenced by offspring body mass prior to fledging. We found that pre-fledging erythrocyte resistance to oxidative stress predicted fledging success, suggesting that individual resistance to oxidative stress is related to short-term survival. However, local recruitment was not influenced by pre-fledging erythrocyte resistance to oxidative stress or oxidative damage. Our results suggest that an individual ability to resist oxidative stress at the offspring stage predicts short-term survival but does not influence survival later in life.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Reproduction*
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Songbirds / genetics
  • Songbirds / metabolism*
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Switzerland


  • Malondialdehyde