Trade-off between aerobic performance and egg production in migratory macaroni penguins

Jubinville, Isabelle; Williams, Tony D.; Trathan, Phil N. ORCID:; Crossin, Glenn T.. 2020 Trade-off between aerobic performance and egg production in migratory macaroni penguins. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 247, 110742.

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


When successive stages of an organism's life-history overlap, conflicts and trade-offs can emerge due to competition among physiological pathways. For example, long periods of sustained locomotion in migrating birds are supported by the androgenic up-regulation of aerobic factors, such as new red blood cell production and hematocrit. However, towards the end of migration, many female birds begin up-regulating 17ß-estradiol (E2) to support vitellogenesis and egg production, but E2 secretion is known to have suppressive effects on red blood cell production (anti-erythropoiesis). We explored potential trade-offs between factors related to aerobic performance (hematocrit, reticulocyte index) and the expression of factors related to E2-mediated vitellogenesis (i.e. yolk precursor production) in female macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus), a species in which the physiologies controlling egg production and migratory activity run simultaneously (e.g. females experience a migratory conflict). We collected blood samples from penguins immediately upon their return to the colony, prior to egg laying. Hematocrit was elevated when the penguins returned to the colony (50.05% ± 3.40 SD), which is similar to pre-laying values observed in other migratory bird species. Furthermore, mean reticulocyte levels were elevated (34.87% ± 2.34), which is the highest level yet recorded in birds. Similarly, both plasma vitellogenin and yolk-targeted very low density lipoprotein levels were upregulated (2.30 ± 0.06 μg Zn ml−1, and 9.70 ± 0.19 mmol l−1, respectively), indicating that penguins were reproductively active and producing eggs during migration and upon arrival on land. As predicted, a negative relationship between hematocrit and plasma vitellogenin was found, but we found no evidence to suggest that birds were experiencing reproductive anemia. Alternatively, we attribute the negative relationship to a hemodilution effect of yolk precursor secretion into circulation. It appears that female macaroni penguins are able to preserve hematocrit levels and new red blood cell production when migratory activity overlaps with reproductive processes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 10956433
Date made live: 16 Jun 2020 11:10 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...