Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Seasonal changes in moult, body mass and reproductive condition in siskins Carduelis spinus exposed to daylength regimes simulating different latitudes

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2011
Authors:Newton, I, Dawson, A
Journal:Journal of Avian Biology
Date Published:2011
ISBN Number:1600-048X
Keywords:Carduelis, Carduelis Spinus, Fringillidae, Spinus, Spinus spinus, United Kingdom
Abstract:Birds use change in daylength during the year to time events during their annual cycles. Individual Eurasian siskins Carduelis spinus can breed and winter in widely separated areas in different years. Birds at different latitudes will experience different changes in photoperiod. So how does latitude affect photoperiodic control? Our aim in this study was to find whether Siskins caught from the wild in Britain and exposed to different photoperiodic regimes, typical of widely separated latitudes, would differ in the subsequent timing and duration of their moults and associated processes. Siskins were caught in late February and early March, and initially kept outside on natural photoperiods. From the spring equinox (21 March), they were divided into three groups kept under photoperiodic regimes that simulated latitudes 40°, 55° and 70°N respectively. All three groups showed highly significant subsequent changes in body mass, fat scores and cloacal protuberance size. Moult of the primary feathers started during June – August (mean 9 July), and lasted 61–99 days (mean 75 days). Birds that started to moult late in the season had shorter moult durations. All individuals showed lower mass and fat levels during moult than before or after moult. Crucially, there were no significant differences in the timing of these events between the three photoperiodic groups. Apparently these birds did not use prevailing absolute photoperiod or the prevailing rate of change in photoperiod to time moult-related seasonal events, but used instead some other feature of the annual photoperiod cycle or some form of interval timer linked to photoperiod.
Short Title:Journal of Avian Biology
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith