Urban environment shortens telomere length in nestling great tits, Parus major

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Urban environments are expanding rapidly, and with urbanization come both challenges and opportunities for wildlife. Challenges include combating the anthropogenic disturbances such as light, noise and air pollution and lower availability of natural food sources. The benefits are many, including the availability of anthropogenic food sources, breeding boxes and warmer temperatures. Thus, depending on the context, urbanization can have both positive and negative effects on fitness related traits. It is well known that early-life conditions can have lifelong implications on fitness; little is however known about development in urban environments. We reciprocally cross-fostered urban and rural nestling great tits (Parus major L.) to study how growing up in an urban versus rural habitat affected telomere length (TL)—a suggested biomarker of longevity. We show, for the first time, that growing up in an urban environment significantly shortens TL, independently of natal origin (i.e. urban or rural). This implies that the urban environment imposes a challenge to developing birds, with potentially irreversible effects on lifespan.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology
  • Cell Biology

Keywords

  • urbanization, aging, development, ornithology, telomere, physiology
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160155
Number of pages4
JournalBiology letters
Volume12
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 15
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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Salmon, P., 2017 Oct, Lund: Lund University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology. 157 p.

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Related projects

Caroline Isaksson, Pablo Salmon, Hannah Watson & Maria von Post

STINT, Stiftelsen för internationalisering av högre utbildning och forskning, Swedish Research Council, Crafoord Foundation, Kungliga Fysiografiska Sällskapet i Lund, Carl Tryggers Stiftelse för Vetenskaplig Forskning

2012/01/012020/12/31

Project: Research

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