Developmental instability in japanese quail genetically selected for contrasting adrenocortical responsiveness.

Department of Poultry Science, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803, USA.
Poultry Science (Impact Factor: 1.52). 12/2000; 79(12):1710-4.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Differences in developmental instability were assessed with Japanese quail of two lines that had been genetically selected over several generations for reduced (low stress, LS) or exaggerated (high stress, HS) plasma corticosterone response to brief mechanical restraint. At 32 wk of age, three bilateral traits were selected for study in each quail line. The characteristics chosen were length of the metatarsus (shank length, SHL), diameter of the shank (SHD) perpendicular to the spur, and distance between the auditory canal and the nares (face length, FL). Significantly greater bilateral trait size variances were associated with the measurement of SHL (P < 0.0088) and FL (P < 0.0016) in the HS line than in the LS line. SHD variances did not differ (P = 0.22) in quail of the HS and LS lines. These findings suggest that developmental instability (i.e., fluctuating asymmetry, FA) is more pronounced in HS quail than in LS quail. Previous studies have shown that not only do quail of the HS line show greater adrenocortical responsiveness to a wide range of stressors but that they are also more easily frightened than LS birds. Therefore, the line differences in FA found here may reflect the birds' differential responsiveness to chronic social and physical environmental stressors. The present findings also support previous suggestions that measuring asymmetries in bilateral traits could be an additional and valid method of assessing stress and of comparing phenotypic stability in selected populations.

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