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Title: Physiological and behavioral responses of house sparrows to repeated stressors
Despite decades of research, we still lack a complete understanding of what factors influence the transition of the necessary and adaptive acute stress response to what has become known as chronic stress. This gap in knowledge has illuminated the necessity for studies that examine the thresholds between these two sides of the stress response. Here, we determine how repeated exposure to acute stressors influences physiological and behavioral responses. In this repeated measures study, house sparrows ( Passer domesticus ) were exposed to a chronic stress protocol. We took physiological and behavioral measurements before, during, and after the protocol. Blood samples were used to assess four aspects of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function: baseline corticosterone, stress-induced corticosterone, negative feedback, and the maximal capacity to secrete corticosterone. We also assessed bacterial killing capacity and changes in uric acid concentration. Neophobia trials were used to assess behavioral changes throughout the protocol. We found no significant changes in HPA axis regulation in any of the four aspects we tested. However, we found that uric acid concentrations and neophobia significantly decreased after only four days of the chronic stress protocol, while bacterial killing capacity did not decrease until after eight days of exposure. These results indicate more » that different components of the stress response can be impacted by chronic stress on different timescales. Our results further indicate the importance of assessing multiple aspects of both physiology and behavior in order to understand how exposure to chronic stress may influence ability to cope with future challenges. « less
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National Science Foundation
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