Long flights and age affect oxidative status of homing pigeons (**Columba livia**)
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
The journal of experimental biology. - London
, p. 377-381
Flying is an energy demanding activity that imposes several physiological challenges on birds, such as increase in energy expenditure. Evidence from sports medicine shows that exhausting exercise may cause oxidative stress. Studies on avian flight have so far considered several blood parameters, such as uric acid, corticosteroids, or circulating free fatty acids, but only one study has analysed markers of oxidative stress in flying birds. In this study, we evaluated, for the first time, how different flight efforts affect the oxidative status using homing pigeons (Columba livia) as a model species. Two groups of pigeons flew for around 60 and 200 km, respectively. Pigeons that flew for 200 km had a 54% increase in oxidative damage as measured by serum reactive oxygen metabolites (ROMs), a 19% drop in total serum antioxidant capacity (OXY) and an 86% increase of oxidative stress (ROMs/OXY×1000). Older pigeons depleted more serum antioxidants regardless of the release distance. Among pigeons that flew the longer distance, heavier ones depleted less serum antioxidants. The results of the study suggest that long flights may cause oxidative stress, and that older individuals may experience higher physiological demands.