Although disruption of glucose homeostasis is a hallmark of ageing in humans and laboratory model organisms, we have little information on the importance of this process in free-living animals. Poor control of blood glucose levels leads to irreversible protein glycation. Hence, levels of protein glycation are hypothesized to increase with age and to be associated with a decline in survival. We tested these predictions by measuring blood glycated haemoglobin in 274 adult collared flycatchers of known age and estimating individual probability of recapture in the following 2 years. Results show a strong decrease in glycated haemoglobin from age 1 to 5 years and an increase thereafter. Individuals with high levels of glycated haemoglobin had a lower probability of recapture, even after controlling for effects of age and dispersal. Altogether, our findings suggest that poor control of glucose homoeostasis is associated with lower survival in this free-living bird population, and that the selective disappearance of individuals with the highest glycation levels could account for the counterintuitive age-related decline in glycated haemoglobin in the early age categories.
- Received March 23, 2016.
- Accepted July 27, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.