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J Comp Physiol B. 2006 Aug;176(6):575-9. Epub 2006 Apr 6.

Environmental and genetic components of oxidative stress in wild kestrel nestlings (Falco tinnunculus).

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Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell'Uomo, Università La Sapienza, Viale dell'Università 32, 00185, Rome, Italy.


In this study, we estimated the environmental and genetic components of two variables related to avian oxidative stress using wild nestlings of the Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). The study was carried out during two breeding seasons. In the first season, we assessed the between- and within-nest resemblance in serum reactive oxygen metabolites (ROMs) and total serum antioxidant barrier (OXY). In the second season, we carried out a cross-fostering experiment to determine the importance of environmental and genetic factors on ROMs and OXY. The 23.5% of ROMs variance was explained by the nest of origin, indicating a main genetic component. In contrast, the 52.8% of OXY variance was explained by the nest of rearing, indicating that this variable was more influenced by environmental components. These findings suggest that variations in ROMs and OXY could reflect, respectively, the expression of different genetic polymorphisms and differences in dietary uptake of antioxidants.

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