A growing body of studies is showing that offspring telomere length (TL) can be influenced by the age of their parents. Such a relationship might be explained by variation in TL at conception (gamete effect) and/or by alteration of early growth conditions in species providing parental care. In a long-lived bird with bi-parental care, the Alpine swift (Apus melba), we exchanged an uneven number of 2 to 4-day-old nestlings between pairs as part of a brood size manipulation. Nestling TL was measured at 50 days after hatching, which allowed investigation of the influence of the age of both their biological and foster parents on offspring TL, after controlling for the manipulation. Nestling TL was negatively related to the age of their biological father and foster mother. Nestling TL did not differ between enlarged and reduced broods. These findings suggest that offspring from older males were fertilized by gametes with shorter telomeres, presumably due to a greater cell division history or a longer accumulation of damage, and that older females may have provided poorer parental care to their offspring.
Excel file ocntaining the qPCR telomere measurements made on swift chicks in 2004 and 2006
Full data set
Full data set on offspring and parental telomere length
Data for dryad.xlsx
This work is licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication license.
|Date made available||8 Sept 2017|
|Publisher||Dryad Digital Repository|
|Date of data production||8 Sept 2017|
- National Science Foundation, Award: Swiss NSF 31003A_124988