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Composition of fuel stores and digestive limitations to fuel deposition rate in the long-distance migratory thrush nightingale, Luscinia luscinia

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.1997, 00:00 authored by Marcel KlaassenMarcel Klaassen, A Lindström, R Zijlstra
During their autumn migratory phase, thrush nightingales (Luscinia luscinia) previously starved for 2 d were allowed to refuel under three different ambient temperature conditions (-7 degrees, 7 degrees, and 22 degrees C). During the refueling period, as well as during the preceding control and starvation periods, food intake, body mass, and feces production were monitored. In addition, daily energy expenditure was measured during the refueling period. The compilation of the energy balance during the refueling period revealed an energy density of the deposited tissue of 33.6 kJ g-1. Assuming that the deposited tissue consists of fat and protein exclusively, with energy densities of 39.6 and 5.5 kJ g-1 wet mass, respectively, we estimated the deposited tissue to consist of 82% fat and 18% wet protein (6% dry protein and 12% water). Nitrogen balances during control, starvation, and refueling phases and during a period of prolonged and complete starvation indicated that 5% of the nutrient stores consisted of dry protein. Our results support recent findings that nutrient stores for migration often contain protein in addition to fat and consequently are 15%-25% less energy rich than pure fat stores. These proteins might be stored as muscle or other functional tissue and may be required to support the extra mass of the stores and/or reflect an incapacity of the metabolic machinery to catabolize far exclusively. Fuel deposition rate was positively related with ambient temperature, whereas food intake rate was unaffected by temperature. These results indicate that the rate of fuel deposition is limited by a ceiling in food intake rate; when this ceiling is reached, fuel deposition rate is negatively affected by daily energy expenditure rate. To a certain extent, the ceiling in food intake rate varies depending on feeding conditions over the previous days. These variations in food intake capacity probably reflect the building and breakdown of gut tissues and/or gut enzyme systems and might be insensible and not evolutionary adaptive. Significant energetic costs, however, are probably associated with the maintenance of gut tissues. It is therefore feasible that changes in digestive capacity are regulated and are directed at energy economization.



Physiological zoology








125 - 133


University of Chicago Press


Chicago, Ill.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

1997, University of Chicago Press