Changes in plasma biochemistry and body mass during incubation in the yellow-legged gull

Alonso-Alvarez, C., Velando, A., Ferrer, M. & Veira, J. A. Changes in plasma biochemistry and body mass during incubation in the yellow-legged gull. Waterbirds 25, 253–258 (2002).


The “Incubatory Reserves Constancy” hypothesis asserts that incubation could be a departure from breeding stress that allows for the maintenance or recovery of body reserves after laying effort (females) or territory defense (males) in those species with bi-parental incubation such as gulls. The plasma composition and body mass of incubating Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus cachinnans) were analyzed and related to the number of days after egg-laying. Female gulls showed an increase in uric acid and cholesterol levels, whereas males showed only an increase in uric acid values throughout this period. Moreover, females increased while males maintained their body masses. These results could reflect a recovery process after the laying effort supporting the Incubatory Reserves Constancy hypothesis in females. Uric acid and urea levels are positively correlated to body condition in Yellow-legged Gulls, which could be the result of a change in diet composition. This disagrees with recent findings on body composition in incubating gulls and could be related to variations in food availability among populations or years, and could reflect flexibility in the investment devoted by each sex.

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