Rapid reversible changes in organ size as a component of adaptive behaviour

T Piersma*, Åke Lindström

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Organ structures and correlated metabolic features (e.g. basal metabolic rate) have often been taken as fixed attributes of fully grown individual vertebrates. When measurements of these attributes became available they were often used as representative values for the species, disregarding the specific conditions during which the measurements were made. Evidence is accumulating that the functional size of organs and aspects of the metabolic physiology of an individual may show great flexibility over timescales of weeks and even days depending on physiological status, environmental conditions and behavioural goals. This flexibility is a way for animals to cope successfully with a much wider range of conditions occurring during various life-cycle events than fixed metabolic machinery would allow. Such phenotypic flexibility is likely to be a common adaptive syndrome, typical of vertebrates living in variable environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-138
Number of pages5
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Volume12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr-1997

Keywords

  • BASAL METABOLIC-RATE
  • BODY-COMPOSITION
  • ENERGY DEMANDS
  • BIRDS
  • STARVATION
  • ATROPHY
  • MUSCLE
  • FAT

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