Influence of growing up in the city or near an airport on the physiological stress of tree sparrow nestlings (Passer montanus)

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Urbanization constitutes one of the major transformations of natural habitats, creating new areas characterized by multiple potential wildlife stressors. Birds that live in highly anthropized zones are confronted with physiological and behavioural challenges caused by these stressors. Here, we investigated if several health parameters difered between three subpopulations of tree sparrow nestlings subjected to diferent levels of anthropogenic pollution, and particularly noise pollution: a quiet rural area, a noisy rural area adjacent to an airport and a heavily urbanized area. We compared body condition, oxidative stress markers and baseline corticosterone levels, expecting urban nestlings to be in overall worse condition as compared to rural (rural and rural airport) birds. In addition, we expected nestlings exposed to aircraft noise to show intermediate stress levels. We found that rural-airport nestlings had the highest levels of antioxidant capacity of plasma and did not difer from rural counterparts in the rest of the parameters. By contrast, urban nestlings were in slightly worse body condition and had lower antioxidant capacity than rural and rural-airport individuals. Our results suggest that aircraft noise does not constitute a signifcant stressor for nestlings. In contrast, urban conditions constitute a more challenging situation, negatively impacting diferent physiological systems. Although nestlings seem able to bufer these challenges in the short-term, further research should explore the long-term potential consequences of early exposure to these conditions.
CRUE-CSIC (Acuerdos Transformativos 2021)