Annual cycle of the black-capped chickadee: Seasonality of food-storing and the hippocampus

  • Hoshooley J
  • Phillmore L
  • Sherry D
 et al. 
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Previous research presents a mixed picture of seasonal variation in the hippocampus of food-storing black-capped chickadees. One field study has shown an October peak in hippocampus volume, although laboratory studies conducted to determine whether photoperiod regulates this seasonal growth have failed to find changes in the size of the hippocampus. To resolve the discrepancy between field and lab reports we examined caching activity, hippocampal volume, and neurogenesis in adult male black-capped chickadees at four times over the annual cycle: October, January, April and July. We found that more birds stored food in October than at other times of year, but did not observe a significant change in the size of the hippocampus over the annual cycle. Telencephalon volume, however, was larger in October than in July. Hippocampal neuronal recruitment showed a significant peak in January, but there was no seasonal change in neuronal recruitment in the adjacent hyper-pallium apicale. These results indicate that there might be seasonal variation in the recruitment of new neurons into the hippocampus of chickadees without overall seasonal change in hippocampal size.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adult neurogenesis
  • Avian hippocampus
  • Food caching
  • Food hoarding
  • Parus atricapillus
  • Poecile atricapilla
  • Poecile atricapillus
  • Seasonal neuroplasticity

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  • Jennifer S. Hoshooley

  • Leslie S. Phillmore

  • David F. Sherry

  • Scott A. MacDougall-Shackleton

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