Hormonal Correlates and Thermoregulatory Consequences of Molting on Metabolic Rate in a Northerly Wintering Shorebird

Francois Vezina*, Anna Gustowska, Kirsten M. Jalvingh, Olivier Chastel, Theunis Piersma

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

52 Citaten (Scopus)
330 Downloads (Pure)


Even though molt involves both endocrine and energetic changes in bird bodies, this study is among the first to combine assessments of energy costs together with thyroid hormone variations in molting birds. Individual shorebirds (red knots Calidris canutus islandica) were measured while in full summer and winter plumage as well as during peak of molt. Molt was associated with a 9.8% increase in average mass-independent basal metabolic rate (BMR) above nonmolting levels. Individual plasma levels of thyroxine (T(4)) were correlated with individual rate of body feather renewal, confirming that T(4) is related to body molt but also showing that it is potentially regulating its rate. Across seasons, mass-independent average heat loss measured as conductance gradually declined with conductance during molt falling between measured values for summer and winter. During the molting period, however, body molting rate was positively correlated with thermal conductance, indicating that for a given ambient temperature below thermoneutrality, the fastest molting birds were losing more body heat. Across seasons, triiodothyronine (T(3)), a hormone typically upregulated in response to a cold stimulus, was correlated with individual thermal conductance and BMR. We suggest that the increased heat loss of fast-molting birds leads to a cold-acclimatization response that may be partly responsible for the elevated BMR measured during molt. This could be mediated through a stimulatory effect of T(3) on BMR in response to increased heat loss. Our interpretation is supported by a positive relationship between the individual changes in conductance and the change in BMR from summer to the molting period.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)129-142
Aantal pagina's14
TijdschriftPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Nummer van het tijdschrift2
StatusPublished - 2009

Citeer dit