The impact of experimentally elevated energy expenditure on oxidative stress and lifespan in the short-tailed field vole Microtus agrestis

Colin Selman, Jane S. McLaren, Andrew R. Collins, Garry G. Duthie, John R. Speakman

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60 Citations (Scopus)


Life-history theory assumes that animal life histories are a consequence of trade-offs between current activities and future reproductive performance or survival, because resource supply is limited. Empirical evidence for such trade-offs in the wild are common, yet investigations of the underlying mechanisms are rare. Life-history trade-offs may have both physiological and ecological mediated costs. One hypothesized physiological mechanism is that elevated energy metabolism may increase reactive oxygen species production, leading to somatic damage and thus compromising future survival. We investigated the impact of experimentally elevated energy expenditure on oxidative damage, protection and lifespan in short-tailed field voles (Microtus agrestis) maintained in captivity to remove any confounding ecological factor effects. Energy expenditure was elevated via lifelong cold exposure (7+/-2 degrees C), relative to siblings in the warm (22+/-2 degrees C). No treatment effect on cumulative mortality risk was observed, with negligible effects on oxidative stress and antioxidant protection. These data suggest that in captive animals physiologically mediated costs on life history do not result from increased energy expenditure and consequent elevations in oxidative stress and reduced survival.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1907-1916
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences
Issue number1645
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2008



  • animals
  • arvicolinae
  • cold temperature
  • energy metabolism
  • longevity
  • oxidative stress
  • lifespan
  • Metabolic rate
  • Cold exposure
  • life-history trade-offs
  • antioxidant
  • doubly-labeled water
  • antioxidant enzyme-activities
  • lipid-peroxidation
  • cold-exposure
  • reproduction
  • birds
  • damage
  • limits

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