Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2000 Jan 22;267(1439):191-5.
doi: 10.1098/rspb.2000.0986.

Empirical Evidence for Differential Organ Reductions During Trans-Oceanic Bird Flight

Affiliations
Free PMC article

Empirical Evidence for Differential Organ Reductions During Trans-Oceanic Bird Flight

P F Battley et al. Proc Biol Sci. .
Free PMC article

Erratum in

  • Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2000 Dec 22;267(1461):2567

Abstract

Since the early 1960s it has been held that migrating birds deposit and use only fat as fuel during migratory flight, with the non-fat portion of the body remaining homeostatic. Recent evidence from field studies has shown large changes in organ sizes in fuelling birds, and theory on fuel use suggests protein may be a necessary fuel during flight. However, an absence of information on the body condition of migrants before and after a long flight has hampered understanding of the dynamics of organs during sustained flight. We studied body condition in a medium-sized shorebird, the great knot (Calidris tenuirostris), before and after a flight of 5400 km from Australia to China during northward migration. Not only did these birds show the expected large reduction in fat content after migration, there was also a decrease in lean tissue mass, with significant decreases in seven organs. The reduction in functional components is reflected in a lowering of the basal metabolic rate by 42% [corrected]. Recent flight models have tried to separate the 'flexible' part of the body from the constant portion. Our results suggest that apart from brains and lungs no organs are homeostatic during long-distance flight. Such organ reductions may be a crucial adaptation for long-distance flight in birds.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 27 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. J Theor Biol. 1998 Mar 7;191(1):47-61 - PubMed
    1. J Exp Biol. 1996;199(Pt 12):2757-65 - PubMed
    1. J Appl Physiol. 1972 Aug;33(2):261-3 - PubMed
    1. Am J Physiol. 1990 Aug;259(2 Pt 2):R333-40 - PubMed
    1. Science. 1964 Mar 6;143(3610):1037-9 - PubMed

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback