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Compensatory bodily changes during moult in tree sparrows, Passer montanus, in Italy
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Ethology.
LIPU. (Conservation Department)
Instituto Superiore di Sanità. (Lab. Igiene Ambientale)
2004 (English)In: Ornis Fennica, ISSN 0030-5685, Vol. 81, no 2, 75-83 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To cope with fluctuating environments animals have evolved reversible phenotypic flexibility.Some birds demonstrate this phenomenon by changing mass and flight muscle according to changes in wing loading. During moult, birds suffer from reduced wing area because feathers are shed and replaced, resulting in a wing loading increase. Moult is rather well studied in birds, but the perspective of phenotypic flexibility has been neglected. Therefore,we tested predictions generated from experimental studies by collecting information about bodymass, flightmuscle size and fat stores from an Italian population of Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) to investigate if they compensate physiologically for the wing area reductions they suffer from during moult. Our results did not corroborate predictions based on experimental studies; that is, the Tree Sparrows did not reduce body mass and increase in flight muscle size as a response to wing area reductions during midmoult. Instead, body mass increased throughout moult, flight muscle size did not change, and fat stores decreased asmoult progressed. To further investigate compensatory changes, we analysed bodily differences in midmoult between birds differing in moult gap size. Again, contrary to predictions from experimental studies, birds having larger moult gaps were found to have higher body mass. These birds were also found to keep the ratio between flight muscle size and body mass constant over the day whereas birds with small moult gaps reduced this ratio over the day. Birds with large moult gaps ere also found to store less fat than birdswith small gaps. Physiological constraints may help to explain these results and underlying reasons for the observed variation in bodily regulation in birds are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 81, no 2, 75-83 p.
National Category
Research subject
Animal Ecology; Zoology; Ethology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-29087OAI: diva2:229097
Available from: 2009-08-11 Created: 2009-08-11 Last updated: 2011-11-09Bibliographically approved

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Lind, Johan
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