Learn More
Vertebrates respond to environmental stressors through the neuro-endocrine stress response, which involves the production of glucocorticoids. We have selected independent, duplicate divergent lines of zebra finches for high, low and control corticosterone responses to a mild stressor. This experiment has shown that over the first four generations, the high(More)
Many bird species have patches of colour in their plumage, contrasting with their basic coloration, which are used to display and signal status to conspecifics. These are called ’badges of status’, because they are believed to be low-cost signals of social status. For a signalling system to be evolutionarily stable, cheating must be controlled. The(More)
The immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH) suggests that dominance signals are costly because their development is controlled by testosterone, which is immunosuppressive. Signal control therefore links an increased disease risk with a high quality signal. The chest bib of the house sparrow, Passer domesticus, is a signal known to be related to(More)
Recent studies of several species have reported a latitudinal cline in the circadian clock gene, Clock, which influences rhythms in both physiology and behavior. Latitudinal variation in this gene may hence reflect local adaptation to seasonal variation. In some bird populations, there is also an among-individual association between Clock poly-Q genotype(More)
Sexually selected signals of individual dominance have profound effects on access to resources, mate choice and gene flow. However, why such signals should honestly reflect individual quality is poorly understood. Many such signals are known to develop under the influence of testosterone. We conducted an experiment in male house sparrows in which(More)
Conspicuous secondary sexual traits may have evolved as handicap-revealing signals or as badges of status. We present results of an experiment using males of the sexually dimorphic house sparrow (Passer domesticus), that support the idea that the male-specific bib can be both a handicap-revealing signal and a reliable badge indicating the physical condition(More)
The effects of environmental stress on the physiology and behaviour of higher vertebrates has become an important avenue of research in recent years. Evidence from recent studies has suggested that the avian stress-related hormone corticosterone (CORT) may play a role in immunocompetence and sexual selection. We tested whether CORT is immunosuppressive by(More)
One of the most important measures of offspring performance is growth rate, which is often traded off against another important survival trait, immune function. A particular feature of ostrich chicks maintained in farmed environments is that cohorts of chicks vary widely in size. As parents can have a profound effect on the phenotype and fitness of their(More)
The original immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH) suggested that testosterone has a handicapping effect in males by both promoting the development of sexual signals and suppressing immune function. A modified version, the stress-linked ICHH, has recently proposed that testosterone is immunosuppressive indirectly by increasing production of(More)
In mammals, stress hormones have profound influences on spatial learning and memory. Here, we investigated whether glucocorticoids influence cognitive abilities in birds by testing a line of zebra finches selectively bred to respond to an acute stressor with high plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels. Cognitive performance was assessed by spatial and visual(More)