Integument colouration in relation to persistent organic pollutants and body condition in arctic breeding black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla).

Abstract : Vertebrates cannot synthetize carotenoids de novo but have to acquire them through their diet. In birds, carotenoids are responsible for the yellow to red colouration of many secondary sexual traits. They are also involved in physiological functions such as immunostimulation and immunoregulation. Consequently, carotenoid-based colouration is very often considered as a reliable signal for health and foraging abilities. Although a few studies have suggested that carotenoid-based coloured traits could be sensitive to environmental pollution such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) contamination, the relationships between pollutants and colouration remain unclear. Here, we examined the relationships between the colouration of carotenoid-based integuments and individual POP levels in pre-laying female black-legged kittiwakes from very high latitudes. In this area, these arctic seabirds are exposed to high POPs contamination. Additionally, we investigated the relationships between colouration and body condition, a frequently used index of individual quality. We found a negative relationship between POP levels and several components of integument colouration: saturation of eye-ring, gapes and tongue, suggesting that POPs could disrupt colouration of labile integuments in female kittiwakes. In addition, we found that females in better body condition displayed more orange and brighter gapes and tongue than females in poor body condition. These results demonstrate that hue and brightness are sensitive to the current health and nutritional status of female kittiwakes. Overall, our study shows that carotenoid-based colour integuments can be affected by several environmental-driven variables.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 9:58:36 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 12:06:13 PM

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Pierre Blévin, Sabrina Tartu, Frédéric Angelier, Sarah Leclaire, Jan Ove Bustnes, et al.. Integument colouration in relation to persistent organic pollutants and body condition in arctic breeding black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla).. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2013, 470-471C, pp.248-254. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.09.049⟩. ⟨hal-00873102⟩

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