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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 1986 Oct;64(1):67-74.

Corticosterone-binding proteins and behavioral effects of high plasma levels of corticosterone during the breeding period in the pied flycatcher.


In the pied flycatcher there exists an anomaly in the relationship between cortical histology and plasma levels of corticosterone during the breeding period. In an attempt to study this anomaly, binding capacity and binding affinity of plasma corticosterone-binding proteins (CBP) were studied in free-living pied flycatchers during the early and late parts of the breeding period. Binding capacity of CBP showed a significant decrease with the progress of the breeding season in both males and females. During the early parts of the breeding season binding capacity was significantly higher in males than in females. No difference between sexes was observed during the nestling period. In males there also was a seasonal decrease in the binding affinity of CBP. The results show that there is a good relationship between periods with high plasma levels of corticosterone and its binding capacity in the blood. A second study showed that an experimentally increased plasma level of corticosterone during the nestling period drastically reduced reproductive success. Parents given silastic implants containing corticosterone fed their nestlings less frequently and produced significantly fewer fledglings than did controls. Unlike the control birds, the body weight of the corticosterone-implanted birds did not decrease during the nestling period. Birds given corticosterone implants in which one small hole had been punched, in order to facilitate diffusion of corticosterone, all abandoned their territories and, consequently, these parents produced no fledglings. Thus, the results show that an elevation of plasma levels of corticosterone in adult pied flycatchers during the nestling period affects parental as well as territorial behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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