Sources of variation in haematocrit in the Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis)

Abstract

The haematocrit rate of the blood shows the individual physiological state. As the haematocrit grows, the higher erythrocyte number results in more efficient oxygen uptake capacity which can lead to better performance and probably a better survival rate of an individual. Hence we assume that the high value of haematocrit reflects good health state. Altogether 308 blood samples were collected from a wild population of Collared Flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) in two breeding stages during a period of 2008-2010. We tried to elucidate the relationship between condition and haematocrit level of an individual and studied the haematocrit changes of an individual between years. The haematocrit values differed between years. Females had higher haematocrit values than males in 2010 but not in 2009. At courtship the haematocrit level of males was higher, than during nestling care. The different environmental effects and energy demands of the individuals may be the driving force behind the observed changes in haematocrit level. Analysing the changes between two years, there was a positive correlation between changes in condition index and haematocrit of individuals. The haematocrit values of an individual were repeatable between years. This finding suggests that haematocrit can be informative about the individual’s general health state.

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