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Ambient temperature effects on photo induced gonadal cycles and hormonal secretion patterns in Great Tits from three different breeding latitudes
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2008 (English)In: Hormones and Behavior, ISSN 0018-506X, E-ISSN 1095-6867, Vol. 54, no 1, p. 60-68Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present study determines how populations of Great Tits (Parus major) breeding in southern, mid and northern European latitudes have adjusted their reproductive endocrinology to differences in the ambient temperature during the gonadal cycle. A study based on long-term breeding data, using the Colwell predictability model, showed that the start of the breeding season has a high predictability  (≈ 0.8–0.9)at all latitudes, and that the environmental information factor (Ie) progressively decreased from mid Italy (Ie>4) to northern Finland (Ie<1). The results indicate that integration of supplementary information, such as ambient temperature, with photoperiodic initial predictive information (day length), becomes progressively more important in maintaining the predictability of the breeding season with decreasing latitude. This hypothesis was verified by exposing photosensitive Great Tits from northern Norway, southern Sweden and northern Italy to sub-maximal photo-stimulatory day lengths (13L:11D) under two different ambient temperature regimes (+ 4 °C and + 20 °C).Changes in testicular size, plasma levels of LH and testosterone were measured. The main results were: (1) Initial testicular growth rate, as well as LH secretion, was affected by temperature in the Italian, but not in birds from the two Scandinavian populations. (2) Maximum testicular size, maximum LH and testosterone levels were maintained for a progressively shorter period of time with increasing latitude, regardless of whether the birds were kept on a low or a high ambient temperature. (3) In birds from all latitudes, the development of photorefractoriness, as indicated by testicular regression and a decrease in plasma levels of LH and testosterone, started much earlier (with the exception for LH Great Tits from northern Scandinavia) when kept on + 20 °C than when kept on  + 4 °C. The prolonging effects of a low temperature was more pronounced in Mediterranean birds, than in birds from Scandinavia, and more pronounced in Great Tits from southern Scandinavia than in Great Tits from northern Scandinavia. Ecological implications of the results are discussed, as well as possible impact of global warming on the breeding success of European Great Tits from different breeding latitudes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 54, no 1, p. 60-68
Keywords [en]
Birds, Great Tit, Parus, Reproduction, Latitude, Temperature, Global warming, Gonad, LH, Testosterone
National Category
Natural Sciences
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URN: urn:nbn:se:polar:diva-8044DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2008.01.015OAI: oai:DiVA.org:polar-8044DiVA, id: diva2:1286197
Available from: 2019-02-06 Created: 2019-02-06 Last updated: 2019-02-06Bibliographically approved

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