Developmental stress can uncouple relationships between physiology and behaviour

Biol Lett. 2014 Dec;10(12):20140834. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0834.


Phenotypic correlations (rP) have frequently been observed between physiological and behavioural traits, and the nature of these associations has been shown to be modulated by a range of environmental stressors. Studies to date have examined the effects of acute stressors on physiology-behaviour interrelations, but the potential for permanent changes induced by exposure to stress during development remains unexplored. We exposed female zebra finches to dietary restriction during the nestling stage and tested how this affected rP among a variety of physiological traits (haematocrit, stress-induced corticosterone level and basal metabolic rate (BMR)) and behavioural traits (activity and feeding rates in novel and familiar environments). Developmental stress completely uncoupled the relationship between activity in a novel environment and two physiological traits: haematocrit and BMR. This suggests that nutritionally based developmental stress has provoked changes in the energy budget that alleviate the trade-off between maintenance (BMR) and locomotor activities.

Keywords: activity; dietary restriction; exploration; metabolism; personality; resting metabolic rate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Stress, Physiological*

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.PM3T1