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Reproductive impairment in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

Authors

  • Almira L. Hoogesteijn,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Wildlife Health, New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca. New York 14853, USA
    • Division of Wildlife Health, New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca. New York 14853, USA
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  • Timothy J. DeVoogd,

    1. Department of Psychology and Neurobiology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
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  • Fred W. Quimby,

    1. Lab Animal Research Center, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, New York 10021, USA
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  • Tony De Caprio,

    1. Department of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany, 1 University Place, Room B 339, Rensselaer, New York 12144, USA
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  • George V. Kollias

    1. Division of Wildlife Health, New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca. New York 14853, USA
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  • Treatment and care of experimental birds (zebra finches [Taeniopygia guttata]) were conducted in accordance with regulations set forth by Cornell's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (protocol 99-100).

Abstract

The effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as compounds that may disrupt endocrine activity and, consequently, alter reproductive performance were investigated in altricial zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). The breeding performance and breeding cycle of zebra finches differed significantly between nonexposed birds and those experimentally pulse-exposed to Aroclor 1248, a PCB compound (40 μg/bird). Aroclor-exposed birds showed significantly increased numbers of clutches laid, nests constructed per pair, incubation time per pair, and percentage of hatchling mortality compared to controls. Not all reproductive parameters were affected. Those traditionally regarded as indicators of reproductive capacity (number of eggs laid per clutch, number of eggs laid per pair, hatchlings per clutch, and fledglings per clutch) did not differ statistically between exposed and control birds. Findings support the hypothesis that very low PCB doses may be associated with endocrine disruption. It is suggested that evaluation of reproductive parameters related to parental care is more adequate to assess endocrine disruption than is evaluation of reproductive success parameters. Given its short breeding cycle, altricial breeding behavior, and other advantages not possessed by precocial birds, we propose using the zebra finch for evaluations of chemicals with endocrine-disruptive activity.

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