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How do Early Life Conditions impact the Physiology and the Life History Trajectories of Wild Alpin Swifts

Dernière mise à jour : lundi 12 septembre 2016, par Nicolas Busser

What factors determine life expectancy of organisms and what are the mechanisms responsible for individual differences in frailty to environmental challenges still remains a major unresolved question. An important candidate for the determination of life expectancy is change in the length of telomeres at the end of chromosomes. Functioning telomeres are crucial to genome integrity and, in turn, to tissue and organ functioning. Telomeres shorten with cell replication and short telomeres induce cell senescence. Because most of telomere shortening occurs during early growth, one hypothesis is that telomere dynamics produce the frequently observed link between poor early growth condition and short life expectancy. Accordingly, artificial growth reduction in the early life of captive zebra finches (ZF) accelerates the loss of telomere length, a proxy of ageing rates, and telomere length at the end of the growth period has been shown to be predictive of individual lifespan both in captivity (ZF) and in the wild (Alpine swift). Therefore, using telomere length measurements in a population of wild birds where individuals have been followed over their entire lifetime will offer a unique opportunity to investigate how telomere length (but also other proxies of physiological status) actually relates to life expectancy, and the importance of early growth conditions in shaping physiological mechanisms related to individual quality and ageing rates. This program is developed within an international collaboration between the IPHC in Strasbourg, the University of Aberdeen and is conducted on wild colonies of swifts located in Switzerland.

Contacts :

Dr. CRISCUOLO François
Département Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie
23 rue becquerel
Mail :

Dr. BIZE Pierre
University of Aberdeen
The School of Biological Sciences
Zoology Building
Mail :