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Three-Phase Fuel Deposition in a Long-Distance Migrant, the Red Knot(Calidris canutus piersmai), before the Flight to High Arctic Breeding Grounds
Hua, N.; Piersma, T.; Ma, Z.J. (2013). Three-Phase Fuel Deposition in a Long-Distance Migrant, the Red Knot(Calidris canutus piersmai), before the Flight to High Arctic Breeding Grounds. PLoS One 8(4). dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0062551
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Hua, N.
  • Piersma, T., more
  • Ma, Z.J.

Abstract
    Refuelling by migratory birds before take-off on long flights is generally considered a two-phase process, with protein accumulation preceding rapid fat deposition. The first phase expresses the demands for a large digestive system for nutrient storage after shrinkage during previous flights, the second phase the demands for fat stores to fuel the subsequent flight. At the last staging site in northward migration, this process may include expression of selection pressures both en route to and after arrival at the breeding grounds, which remains unascertained. Here we investigated changes in body composition during refuelling of High Arctic breeding red knots (Calidris canutus piersmai) in the northern Yellow Sea, before their flight to the tundra. These red knots followed a three-phase fuel deposition pattern, with protein being stored in the first and last phases, and fat being deposited mainly in the second phase. Thus, they did not shrink nutritional organs before take-off, and even showed hypertrophy of the nutritional organs. These suggest the build up of strategic protein stores before departure to cope with a protein shortage upon arrival on the breeding grounds. Further comparative studies are warranted to examine the degree to which the deposition of stores by migrant birds generally reflects a balance between concurrent and upcoming environmental selection pressures.

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