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Body-building and concurrent mass loss: flight adaptations in tree sparrows
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Ethology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3476-3925
2001 (English)In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 268, no 1479, 1915-1919 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Environmental changes are responsible for the evolution of flexible physiology and the extent of phenotypic plasticity in the regulation of birds' organ size has not been appreciated until recently. Rapid reversible physiological changes during different life–history stages are virtually only known from long–distance migrants, and few studies have focused on less extreme aspects of organ flexibility. During moult, birds suffer from increased wing loading due to wing–area reductions, which may impair flight ability. A previous study found that tree sparrows' escape flight (Passer montanus) is unaffected during moult, suggesting compensatory aptness. We used non–invasive techniques to study physiological adaptations to increased wing loading in tree sparrows. As wing area was reduced during natural moult the ratio of pectoral–muscle size to body mass increased. When moult was completed this ratio decreased. We show experimentally a novel, strategic, organ–flexibility pattern. Unlike the general pattern, where body mass is positively coupled to pectoral–muscle size, tree sparrows responded within 7 days to reductions in wing area by reducing body mass concurrently with an increase in pectoral–muscle size. This rapid flexibility in a non–migratory species probably reflects the paramount importance and long history of flight in birds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. Vol. 268, no 1479, 1915-1919 p.
Keyword [en]
rapid reversible physiology, moult, body mass, pectoral muscle, flight, performance, tree sparrow
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Research subject
Zoology; Physiology; Ethology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-29079DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2001.1740OAI: diva2:229071
Available from: 2009-08-11 Created: 2009-08-11 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

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Lind, JohanJakobsson, Sven
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EthologyDepartment of Zoology
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