Intra-individual variation in body temperature and pectoral muscle size in nestling Alpine swifts Apus melba in response to an episode of inclement weather

Pierre Bize*, Aurelie Klopfenstein, Caroline Jeanneret, Alexandre Roulin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Alpine swift (Apus melba) forages on insects caught exclusively on the wing, implying that dependent nestlings face acute food shortage in periods of cold and rainy weather. Therefore, there should be strong selection on nestling swifts to evolve physiological strategies to cope with periods of undernutrition. We have investigated intra-individual changes in nestling pectoral muscle and body temperature in response to a 1-week period of inclement weather. The pectoral muscle is the largest reserves of proteins, and nestlings have to devote a large amount of energy in the maintenance of body temperature. The results show that nestling pectoral muscle size and body temperature were significantly reduced during the episode of inclement weather. Assuming that these physiological changes are adaptive, our study suggests that nestling swifts spare energy by a pronounced reduction (up to 18 degrees C) in body temperature and use proteins from the pectoral muscle as a source of extra energy to survive prolonged periods of fasting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-393
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Volume148
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jun 2007
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007

Keywords

  • pectoral muscle
  • starvation
  • torpor
  • weather condition
  • food shortage
  • organ size
  • growth
  • physiology
  • protein
  • chicks
  • flight
  • mass

Cite this

Intra-individual variation in body temperature and pectoral muscle size in nestling Alpine swifts Apus melba in response to an episode of inclement weather. / Bize, Pierre; Klopfenstein, Aurelie; Jeanneret, Caroline; Roulin, Alexandre.

In: Journal of Ornithology, Vol. 148, No. 4, 10.2007, p. 387-393.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "The Alpine swift (Apus melba) forages on insects caught exclusively on the wing, implying that dependent nestlings face acute food shortage in periods of cold and rainy weather. Therefore, there should be strong selection on nestling swifts to evolve physiological strategies to cope with periods of undernutrition. We have investigated intra-individual changes in nestling pectoral muscle and body temperature in response to a 1-week period of inclement weather. The pectoral muscle is the largest reserves of proteins, and nestlings have to devote a large amount of energy in the maintenance of body temperature. The results show that nestling pectoral muscle size and body temperature were significantly reduced during the episode of inclement weather. Assuming that these physiological changes are adaptive, our study suggests that nestling swifts spare energy by a pronounced reduction (up to 18 degrees C) in body temperature and use proteins from the pectoral muscle as a source of extra energy to survive prolonged periods of fasting.",
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author = "Pierre Bize and Aurelie Klopfenstein and Caroline Jeanneret and Alexandre Roulin",
note = "We are grateful to Herbert Biebach for lending us the muscle meter, the late Theo Marbot for providing us access to the Swift colony in Bienne, the Swiss meteorological stations for providing us meteorological data, two anonymous referees for helpful comments on the manuscript and the Swiss Science Foundation for financial support (grant no. PP00A-109009 to PB and no. PP00A-102913 to AR).",
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AU - Jeanneret, Caroline

AU - Roulin, Alexandre

N1 - We are grateful to Herbert Biebach for lending us the muscle meter, the late Theo Marbot for providing us access to the Swift colony in Bienne, the Swiss meteorological stations for providing us meteorological data, two anonymous referees for helpful comments on the manuscript and the Swiss Science Foundation for financial support (grant no. PP00A-109009 to PB and no. PP00A-102913 to AR).

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N2 - The Alpine swift (Apus melba) forages on insects caught exclusively on the wing, implying that dependent nestlings face acute food shortage in periods of cold and rainy weather. Therefore, there should be strong selection on nestling swifts to evolve physiological strategies to cope with periods of undernutrition. We have investigated intra-individual changes in nestling pectoral muscle and body temperature in response to a 1-week period of inclement weather. The pectoral muscle is the largest reserves of proteins, and nestlings have to devote a large amount of energy in the maintenance of body temperature. The results show that nestling pectoral muscle size and body temperature were significantly reduced during the episode of inclement weather. Assuming that these physiological changes are adaptive, our study suggests that nestling swifts spare energy by a pronounced reduction (up to 18 degrees C) in body temperature and use proteins from the pectoral muscle as a source of extra energy to survive prolonged periods of fasting.

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