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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Effects of stress on telomere dynamics in chicks of the Black-legged Kittiwake

Awarded: NOK 78,999

In the present study I will investigate the effects of stress, experimentally imposed by repeated investigator disturbance during the nestling period, on the telomere reduction rate in chicks of the Black-legged Kittiwake. The study will be conducted in two breeding colonies in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard. The fieldwork will take place during the breeding season of 2016. Experimental chicks will be exposed to increased stress levels through a 15 minute handling procedure every second day for approximately 25 days (resembling that of obtaining growth data from chicks during a general survey) and compared to a control group. The stress level imposed during development and the telomere shortening will in both groups be assessed by analyzing corticosterone levels in feathers of fledglings and by blood samples obtained at hatching and at fledgling, respectively. The results could have great implications, as it could reveal if <>-induced stress can have long-term effects on fitness and survival.

Funding scheme:

SSF-Svalbard Science Forum