Meeting Abstract

P3.130  Friday, Jan. 6  Life history traits and senescence in six auk species YOUNG, R.C.*; KITAYSKY, A.S.; Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks; Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks

Current aging theories describe the senescence as caused by accumulated cellular damage, especially damage caused by oxidative stress. Telomeres are a new relatively non-invasive technique tha may be used to monitor senescence. In short-lived species telomere shortening is often tightly linked to aging, however in longer-lived species with “slower” life histories this relationship may be almost entirely decoupled. Because oxidative stress is driven in part by metabolism, life history parameters (such as metabolic rate, growth rate, and reproductive output) are expected to drive evolution of senescence rates. We tested this hypothesis for the three sister-species pairs of auks (in the Alcidae family of long-lived seabirds). We analyzed telomere length in red blood cells of captive birds in relation to their chronological age. Auks are pursuit-diving predators, they vary by diet, lifespan, and body size, but each focal species has a maximum reproductive output of 1 chick per year. This phylogenetically controlled comparison of age-dependent telomere attrition among relatively long-lived piscivorous murres (large bodied), piscivorous puffins (medium bodied), and relatively short-lived planktivorous auklets (small bodied) allows for further development of hypotheses regarding senescence rates in birds that differ in their basic life history and ecological traits.