Daily levels and rhythm in circulating corticosterone and insulin are altered with photostimulated seasonal states in night-migratory blackheaded buntings

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Abstract

The circadian rhythms are involved in the photostimulation of seasonal responses in migratory blackheaded buntings. Here, we investigated whether changes in daily levels and rhythm in corticosterone (cort) and insulin secretions were associated with transitions in the photoperiodic seasonal states. Buntings were exposed to short days to maintain the winter (photosensitive) non-migratory state, and to long days for varying durations to induce the premigratory, migratory (shown by migratory restlessness at night, Zugunruhe) and summer non-migratory (photorefractory) states. We monitored activity patterns, and measured plasma cort and insulin levels at six and four times, respectively, over 24 h in each seasonal state. Buntings were fattened and weighed heavier, and exhibited intense nighttime activity in the migratory state. The daytime activity patterns also showed seasonal differences, with a bimodal pattern with morning and evening activity bouts only in the summer non-migratory state. Further, the average baseline hormone levels were significantly higher in premigratory and migratory than in the winter non-migratory state. Both cort and insulin levels showed a significant daily rhythm, but with seasonal differences. Whereas, cort rhythm acrophases (estimated time of peak secretion over 24 h) were at night in the winter non-migratory, premigratory and migratory states, the insulin rhythm acrophases were found early in the day and night in winter and summer non-migratory states, respectively. These results suggest that changes in daily levels and rhythm in cort and insulin mediate changes in the physiology and behavior with photostimulated transition in seasonal states in migratory blackheaded buntings.

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