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Do wild-caught urban house sparrows (Passer domesticus) show desensitized stress responses to a novel stressor?

StressChron Framework:

Project code 084
Role Partner
Research area Contributing to a more sustainable and animal welfare minded food production
Research topic Mechanism(s) of glucocorticoid incorporation
Vertebrate Fish
Species Carp (Cyprinus carpio)


The research goal is to gain insight in the anthropogenic effect of urbanization on house sparrows (Passer domesticus). While urbanization exposes individuals to novel challenges, urban areas may also constitute stable environments in which seasonal fluctuations are buffered. Baseline and stress-induced plasma corticosterone levels are often found to be similar in urban and rural populations. Here we aimed to disentangle two possible mechanisms underlying such pattern: (i) urban environments are no more stressful or urban birds have a better ability to habituate to stressors; or (ii) urban birds developed desensitized stress responses. Hereto, a plethora of parameters including the glucocorticoid profile of feathers were analyzed of birds from exposed wild-caught urban and rural house sparrows to combined captivity and diet treatments (urban vs rural diet).


Keywords: wildlife, bird, anthropogenic, stress, corticosterone, feather

Funding: Interuniversity Attraction Poles Program SPEEDY (initiated by the Belgian Science Policy Office and the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia)

Status: Finalized


Ghent University (Aerts J, De Neve L, Hudina NS, Lens L, Strubbe D)

Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Aerts J)

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia (Hudina NS, Teyssier A)

University of Saskatchewan, Canada (Fairhurst GD)

Université Paul Sabatier, France (White J)


Salleh Hudin N, Teyssier A, Aerts J, Fairhurst G D, Strubbe D, White J, De Neve L, Lens L (2018) Do wild-caught urban house sparrows show desensitized stress responses to a novel stressor? Biol Open. 031849 (Q1 - IF=2.432)

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