Endocrine, metabolic, and behavioral effects of and recovery from acute stress in a free-ranging bird

Pierre Deviche, Stephanie Bittner, Scott Davies, Shelley Valle, Sisi Gao, Elodie Carpentier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Acute stress in vertebrates generally stimulates the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and is often associated with multiple metabolic changes, such as increased gluconeogenesis, and with behavioral alterations. Little information is available, especially in free-ranging organisms, on the duration of these reversible effects once animals are no longer exposed to the stressor. To investigate this question, we exposed free-ranging adult male Rufous-winged Sparrows, Peucaea carpalis, in breeding condition to a standard protocol consisting of a social challenge (conspecific song playback) followed with capture and restraint for 30 min, after which birds were released on site. Capture and restraint increased plasma corticosterone (CORT) and decreased plasma testosterone (T), glucose (GLU), and uric acid (UA). In birds that we recaptured the next day after exposure to conspecific song playback, plasma CORT and UA levels no longer differed from levels immediately after capture the preceding day. However, plasma T was similar to that measured after stress exposure the preceding day, and plasma GLU was markedly elevated. Thus, exposure to social challenge and acute stress resulted in persistent (⩾24 h) parameter-specific effects. In recaptured sparrows, the territorial aggressive response to conspecific song playback, as measured by song rate and the number of flights over the song-broadcasting speakers, did not, however, differ between the first capture and the recapture, suggesting no proximate functional association between plasma T and conspecific territorial aggression. The study is the first in free-ranging birds to report the endocrine, metabolic, and behavioral recovery from the effects of combined social challenge and acute stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Acute stress
  • Antioxidant
  • Corticosterone
  • Glucose
  • Glycemia
  • Oxidative stress
  • Passerine
  • Song playback
  • Sparrow
  • Testosterone
  • Uric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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