© 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Telomeres are sensitive to damage induced by oxidative stress, and thus it is expected that dietary antioxidants may support the maintenance of telomere length in animals, particularly those with a fast rate of life (e.g. fast metabolism, activity and growth). We tested experimentally the effect of antioxidant supplements on telomere length during early development in wild gull chicks with natural individual variations in behaviour pattern and growth rate. Proactive chicks had shorter telomeres than reactive chicks, but the penalty for the bold behaviour pattern was reduced by antioxidant supplementation. Chicks growing faster had longer telomeres during early growth, suggesting that inherited quality supports a fast life history.