Luke Douglas

Project title: Investigating avian flight physiology: How do Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata) contend with harmful pro-oxidants?

Mentors: Clara Cooper-Mullin & Scott R. McWilliams

Abstract: Birds have complex antioxidant systems that combat harmful pro-oxidants produced during strenuous exercise such as would be experienced during migration. We investigated how a species of songbird, the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) regulates its antioxidant capacity during short-term endurance flights and whether they experience damage due to reactive species production during flight by flying a flock of the birds daily in a flight arena. We performed an OXY-adsorbent test and a dROMS test on blood samples from the birds before and after flight to measure non-enzymatic total antioxidant capacity and lipid peroxidation, respectively. Additionally, we examined potential changes in oxidative status due to training over time. We found that zebra finches that had been trained a thirteen-day period showed no differences in oxidative damage compared to sedentary finches, though trained birds were able to successfully anticipate exercise by increasing antioxidant capacity prior to daily flights.