Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2012 Sep 1;178(2):408-16. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2012.06.008. Epub 2012 Jun 22.

Corticosterone levels of Atlantic puffins vary with breeding stage and sex but are not elevated in poor foraging years.

Author information

Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology Graduate Program, Memorial University, St. John's, NL, Canada A1B 3X9.


Corticosterone (CORT) levels in seabirds fluctuate across breeding stages and in different foraging conditions. Here we use a ten-year data set to examine whether CORT levels in Atlantic puffins differ in years with high or low availability of capelin, the preferred forage species. Female puffins had higher CORT levels than males, possibly related to cumulative costs of egg production and higher parental investment. Puffins had higher CORT levels and body mass during pre-breeding than during chick rearing. Yearly mean chick growth rates were higher in years when adults had higher body mass and in years where adults brought chicks a lower percentage of non-fish (invertebrates/larval fish) food. Unlike most results from seabird species with shorter chick-rearing periods, higher CORT levels in puffins were not associated with lower capelin abundance. Puffins may suppress CORT levels to conserve energy in case foraging conditions improve later in the prolonged chick-rearing period. Alternatively, CORT levels may be lowest both when food is very abundant (years not in our sample) or very scarce (e.g., 2009 in this study), and increase when extra foraging effort will increase foraging efficiency (most years in this study). If these data primarily represent years with medium to poor foraging, it is possible that CORT responses to variation in foraging conditions are similar for puffins and other seabirds.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center