House sparrows mitigate growth effects of post-natal glucocorticoid exposure at the expense of longevity. Academic Article uri icon


  • Acute, short-term effects of early-life stress and associated glucocorticoid upregulation on physiology and survival are widely documented across vertebrates. However, the persistence and severity of these effects are largely unknown, especially through the adult stage and for natural systems. Here, we investigate physiological, morphological, and survival effects of post-natal glucocorticoid upregulation across the nestling, juvenile, and adult life stages in house sparrows (Passer domesticus). We manipulate circulating corticosterone concentration in wild, free-living house sparrow nestlings and monitor body size, size-corrected mass, two measures of health (hematocrit and phytohemagglutinin-induced skin swelling), and survival in a captive environment until adulthood. We find that early-life corticosterone exposure depresses nestling size-corrected mass in both sexes, with no strong effect of the treatment on body size or our two measures of health. Birds are able to compensate for negative effects of high early-life corticosterone exposure in the long-term and this effect largely disappears by the juvenile and adult stages. However, treatment has a negative effect on survival through one year of age, suggesting that long-term compensation comes at a price.

published proceedings

  • Gen Comp Endocrinol

altmetric score

  • 1.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Grace, J. K., Froud, L., Meillre, A., & Angelier, F.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Grace, Jacquelyn K||Froud, Louise||Meillère, Alizée||Angelier, Frédéric

publication date

  • January 2017