Meeting Abstract

96.3  Saturday, Jan. 7  Physiological stress responsiveness is transferable from parent to offspring in free-living Florida Scrub-Jays SMALL, Thomas W*; BRIDGE, Eli; SCHOECH, Stephan; University of Memphis; University of Oklahoma; University of Memphis

The rapid stress induced elevation of plasma glucocorticoids is well documented in a variety of animals. In Florida Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) the magnitude and time course of increased corticosterone (CORT) during a restraint stress can vary greatly between individuals and these differences are correlated with a number of behavioral differences, such as nest attendance. The differences in physiological stress response can be detected within a few months after fledging, and are largely consistent between years, suggesting they are a persistent aspect of the individual’s phenotype. Parental phenotype, parental behavior, early life nutrition, and habitat structure could all play a role in the development and expression of an individual’s phenotype. To investigate which factors are most important in the development of the CORT stress response we are using a novel “SmartFeeder” design that utilizes RFID technology to selectively target dietary treatment to specific individuals within a population of free-living Florida Scrub-Jays. With these feeders we are able to provide food supplementation to specific nests, and to potentially modify parental behavior at those nests, by selective supplementation of either the breeding male or the breeding female. To date, we have found that an individual’s stress responsiveness is significantly correlation with its parent’s stress responsiveness and with parental nest attendance. Continuing experimentation will help determine the specific modes by which the parent’s phenotype is transferred to the offspring as well as the long term impact of these different phenotypes on an individual’s success.