To optimize fitness, organisms may have to trade the number and quality of individual offspring against their own condition and survival. Limiting micronutrients such as antioxidants may be crucial to this trade-off. We investigated whether vitamin E, a major antioxidant in the diet of vertebrates, is limiting to barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) nestlings. We manipulated brood size to alter the intensity of sib-sib competition and supplemented nestlings with two different physiological doses of vitamin E while establishing a control group. Treatment effects were measured on body mass and size, feather growth, T cell-mediated immune response and hematocrit. Supplementation with vitamin E at intermediate physiological doses improved nestling mass and condition and feather growth, whereas higher physiological doses did not enhance offspring quality compared to a control treatment. The positive effects of vitamin E on body mass and condition were only detectable from days 6 to 10 when maximum growth rate is attained. Experimental enlargement of broods reduced body mass and size and T cell-mediated immune response only during the late nestling period. The effect of vitamin E supplementation did not depend on brood size manipulation, as revealed by the nonsignificant statistical interaction. This result contradicts the hypothesis that availability of vitamin E depends on intrabrood competition and instead suggests that it depends on concentration of vitamin E in the insect prey of swallows. Thus, antioxidants may be available in limited amounts to barn swallow nestlings and such limitation affects growth. In addition, present results confirm that barn swallow parents trade progeny number against growth and immunity of individual offspring.
|Titolo:||Vitamin E supplementation enhances growth and condition of nestling barn swallows (Hirundo rustica)|
|Autori interni:||SAINO, NICOLA MICHELE FRANCESCO (Ultimo)|
MARTINELLI, ROBERTA (Secondo)
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2006|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1007/s00265-006-0206-0|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|