Physiological trade-offs mediated by limiting energy, resources or time constrain the simultaneous expression of major functions and can lead to the evolution of temporal separation between demanding activities. In birds, plumage renewal is a demanding activity, which accomplishes fundamental functions, such as allowing thermal insulation, aerodynamics and socio-sexual signaling. Feather renewal is a very expensive and disabling process, and molt is often partitioned from breeding and migration. However, trade-offs between feather renewal and breeding have been only sparsely studied. In barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) breeding in Italy and undergoing molt during wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, we studied this trade-off by removing a tail feather from a large sample of individuals and analyzing growth bar width, reflecting feather growth rate, and length of the growing replacement feather in relation to the stage in the breeding cycle at removal and clutch size. Growth bar width of females and length of the growing replacement feather of both sexes were smaller when the original feather had been removed after clutch initiation. Importantly, in females both growth bar width and replacement feather length were negatively predicted by clutch size, and more strongly so for large clutches and when feather removal occurred immediately after clutch completion. Hence, we found strong, coherent evidence for a trade-off between reproduction, and laying effort in particular, and the ability to generate new feathers. These results support the hypothesis that the derived condition of molting during wintering in long-distance migrants is maintained by the costs of overlapping breeding and molt.

A Trade-Off between Reproduction and Feather Growth in the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) / N. Saino, M. Romano, D. Rubolini, R. Ambrosini, A. Romano, M. Caprioli, A. Costanzo, G. Bazzi. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - 9:5(2014 May 14), pp. e96428.1-e96428.12.

A Trade-Off between Reproduction and Feather Growth in the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

N. Saino
Primo
;
M. Romano
Secondo
;
D. Rubolini;R. Ambrosini;A. Romano;M. Caprioli;A. Costanzo;G. Bazzi
2014

Abstract

Physiological trade-offs mediated by limiting energy, resources or time constrain the simultaneous expression of major functions and can lead to the evolution of temporal separation between demanding activities. In birds, plumage renewal is a demanding activity, which accomplishes fundamental functions, such as allowing thermal insulation, aerodynamics and socio-sexual signaling. Feather renewal is a very expensive and disabling process, and molt is often partitioned from breeding and migration. However, trade-offs between feather renewal and breeding have been only sparsely studied. In barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) breeding in Italy and undergoing molt during wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, we studied this trade-off by removing a tail feather from a large sample of individuals and analyzing growth bar width, reflecting feather growth rate, and length of the growing replacement feather in relation to the stage in the breeding cycle at removal and clutch size. Growth bar width of females and length of the growing replacement feather of both sexes were smaller when the original feather had been removed after clutch initiation. Importantly, in females both growth bar width and replacement feather length were negatively predicted by clutch size, and more strongly so for large clutches and when feather removal occurred immediately after clutch completion. Hence, we found strong, coherent evidence for a trade-off between reproduction, and laying effort in particular, and the ability to generate new feathers. These results support the hypothesis that the derived condition of molting during wintering in long-distance migrants is maintained by the costs of overlapping breeding and molt.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/255537
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