MEPS 578:253-261 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12022

Relationship between telomere dynamics and movement and behavior during winter in the thick‑billed murre

Rebecca C. Young1,*, Rachael A. Orben2, Alexis P. Will1, Alexander S. Kitaysky1

1Department of Biology and Wildlife, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Irving 311, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
2Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport, OR 97365, USA
*Corresponding author:
Advance View was available online February 22, 2017

ABSTRACT: Connecting the life history stages of the annual cycle via carry-over effects crucially informs estimates of mortality and reproduction. This study explores variables linking the breeding and wintering seasons in a pursuit-diving seabird, the thick-billed murre Uria lomvia. We deployed global location sensing loggers on chick-rearing murres breeding in the southeastern Bering Sea to examine subsequent overwinter locations and foraging behavior. In the tracked individuals, we measured individual telomere length and longitudinal telomere length changes in blood and used feathers molted during fall and early spring to assess trophic niche (via stable isotopes) and stress levels (as reflected in feather corticosterone levels). Longitudinal changes in telomere length were better predicted by winter diving parameters than by geographic distribution and movement variables, such that birds that foraged more intensely (more time diving, more dive bouts) also experienced higher telomere loss. This indicates that in a pursuit-diving species with high flight costs, patterns of water-column use through diving may be more important than horizontal spatial movement for predicting physiological changes underlying carry-over effects. We conclude that telomere dynamics might be used as an indicator connecting behavior and physiological stress from season to season.


KEY WORDS: Telomeres · Carry-over effects · Feather corticosterone · Stable isotope analysis · Migration · Thick-billed murre · Uria lomvia · Wintering grounds · Geolocator


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Cite this article as: Young RC, Orben RA, Will AP, Kitaysky AS (2017) Relationship between telomere dynamics and movement and behavior during winter in the thick‑billed murre. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 578:253-261. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12022

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