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Proc Biol Sci. 2003 May 7;270(1518):963-9.

Forest management is associated with physiological stress in an old-growth forest passerine.

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  • 1Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland.


We investigated how physiological stress in an area-sensitive old-growth forest passerine, the Eurasian treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), is associated with forest fragmentation and forest structure. We found evidence that the concentrations of plasma corticosterone in chicks were higher under poor food supply in dense, young forests than in sparse, old forests. In addition, nestlings in large forest patches had lower corticosterone levels and a better body condition than in small forest patches. In general, corticosterone levels were negatively related to body condition and survival. We also found a decrease in corticosterone levels within the breeding season, which may have been a result of an increase in food supply from the first to the second broods. Our results suggest that forest fragmentation may decrease the fitness of free-living individual treecreepers.

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