Liver Antioxidants in Relation to Beak Morphology, Gizzard Size and Diet in the Common Eider Somateria mollissima

Moller A. P., Laursen K., Karadaş F.

ANTIOXIDANTS, vol.8, no.2, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/antiox8020031
  • Journal Name: ANTIOXIDANTS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Keywords: antioxidants, alpha-tocopherol, retinol, carotenoids, coenzyme Q(10), eiders, VITAMIN-E, LIPID-PEROXIDATION, CAROTENOID STATUS, COENZYME-Q, EGGS, IMMUNITY, TISSUES, YOLK
  • Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Affiliated: Yes


Antioxidants in the liver are particularly abundant in capital breeders that rely on stored resources for egg production. Capital breeders like eider (hereafter common eider) Somateria mollissima have disproportionately large livers with low levels of coenzyme Q(10) when compared to other bird species. Concentrations of total carotenoids and vitamin E in the livers of eiders were smaller than predicted for similarly sized bird species. Eiders with high body condition estimated as body mass relative to skeletal body size had high levels of total carotenoids and low levels of coenzyme Q(10). The concentration of total carotenoids per gram of liver increased with age, and vitamin E and total carotenoids accumulated during the winter onwards from February to peak at the start of incubation in April. Total vitamin E, total carotenoids, and coenzyme Q(10) per gram of liver decreased with increasing beak volume. The size of the empty gizzard increased with increasing liver mass but decreased with total carotenoids and coenzyme Q(10). The main components of the diet were blue mussels Mytilus edulis (40%), draft whelk Nassarius reticulatus (27%), and periwinkle Littorina littorea (10%). The concentration of vitamin E increased with the number of razor clams Ensis sp. and draft whelks in the gizzard and the concentration of total carotenoids increased with the number of beach crabs Carcinus maenas. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that eiders are limited in their levels of antioxidants through food limitation. Furthermore, they imply that diet and morphological characters involved in food acquisition and processing are important determinants of the level of antioxidants in the liver.