Stress responses in tropical sparrows: Comparing tropical and temperate Zonotrichia

Haruka Wada, Ignacio T. Moore, Creagh W. Breuner, John C. Wingfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Seasonal modulation of the adrenocortical response appears to be ubiquitous in mid- to high-latitude vertebrates but has not been investigated in tropical vertebrates. Previous studies demonstrate that temperate passerines show seasonality in corticosterone secretion and corticosteroid binding globulin capacities. We examined seasonal and sex differences in the stress response in an equatorial population of Zonotrichia capensis, the only Zonotrichia that breeds in the tropics, and compared the results with those of northern Zonotrichia. Seasonal differences in tropical Zonotrichia would presumably be independent of photoperiod and thus directly related to such activities as reproduction and feather molt. In addition, we investigated the possible role of binding globulin as a sex steroid binding globulin, as suggested for temperate passerines. Similar to northern congeners, Z. capensis show seasonal modulation in total corticosterone and binding globulin capacity with higher levels during breeding than molt. However, unlike many temperate passerines, there are no sex differences in corticosterone secretion or binding globulin capacity. Furthermore, the seasonal differences in total corticosterone diminish when the free levels are calculated. The contrast between equatorial and northern congeners indicates factors such as breeding environment and life-history strategy may play important roles in shaping stress response in these species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-792
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006


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