Differential Effects of Pinealectomy on Circadian Rhythms of Feeding and Perch Hopping in the European Starling

Eberhard Gwinner, Ramanujam Subbaraj, Cynthia K. Bluhm, Menno Gerkema

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To study the effects of pinealectomy on the circadian rhythms of locomotor activity and feeding, European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) were held in constant light (0.2 lux and 200 lux) and under constant temperature conditions. Locomotor activity was measured by means of perches with microswitches mounted underneath, and feeding with an infrared photocell system at the feeder. Pinealectomy consistently led to disturbances in perch-hopping rhythms and often to a complete loss of rhythmicity as revealed by periodogram analysis. In some birds, perch-hopping rhythms recovered following a period of initial arrhythmicity. When a perch-hopping rhythm was present, its period was usually shorter than it had been before pinealectomy. In contrast to its effects on perch hopping, pinealectomy had no effect on the persistence of feeding rhythmicity, although its period, like that of the hopping rhythm, decreased after this operation. These results support the hypothesis derived from previous studies that the circadian organization of feeding is different from that of perch hopping. Different circadian pacemakers may be involved, but other models may possibly explain the data just as well.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1987

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