A1 Journal article – refereed
Carotenoid Composition of Invertebrates Consumed by Two Insectivorous Bird Species

List of Authors: Eeva T, Helle S, Salminen JP, Hakkarainen H
Publisher: SPRINGER
Publication year: 2010
Journal: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Journal name in source: JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL ECOLOGY
Journal acronym: J CHEM ECOL
Number in series: 6
Volume number: 36
Issue number: 6
Number of pages: 6
ISSN: 0098-0331

Dietary carotenoids are important pigments, antioxidants, and immune-stimulants for birds. Despite recent interest in carotenoids in bird ecology, we know surprisingly little about the carotenoid content of invertebrates consumed by birds. We compared carotenoid (lutein, beta-carotene, and total) concentrations in invertebrates brought to nestlings by two insectivorous passerines, the great tit, Parus major and the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca. We also compared carotenoid levels between environments that were either polluted by heavy metals or were not polluted, because the carotenoid-based plumage color of P. major nestlings is affected by environmental pollution. Lepidopterans were the most carotenoid-rich food items and contained the largest proportion of lutein. There were no differences in carotenoid concentrations in the food items of the two bird species but P. major nestlings obtained more carotenoids from their invertebrate diet than F. hypoleuca nestlings because the P. major diet had a higher proportion of lepidopteran larvae. In polluted areas, P. major nestlings consumed lower levels of dietary carotenoids than in unpolluted areas because of temporal differences in caterpillar abundance between polluted and unpolluted sites. Our study suggests that pollution-related difference in nestling plumage color in P. major is related to varying dietary proportion of lutein-rich food items rather than pollution-related variation in insect carotenoid levels.

Last updated on 2019-21-08 at 22:36