We address the question of whether physiological flexibility in relation to climate is a general feature of the metabolic properties of birds. We tested this hypothesis in hand-raised Garden Warblers (Sylvia borin), long-distance migrants, which normally do not experience great temperature differences between summer and winter. We maintained two groups of birds under cold and warm conditions for 5 months, during which their body mass and food intake were monitored. When relatedness (siblings vs. non-siblings) of the experimental birds was taken into account, body mass in cold-acclimated birds was higher than in warm-acclimated birds. BMR, measured at the end of the 5-month temperature treatment, was also higher in the cold- than the warm-acclimated group. Migrant birds thus seem to be capable of the same metabolic cold-acclimation response as has been reported in resident birds. The data support the hypothesis that physiological flexibility is a basic trait of the metabolic properties of birds [KEYWORDS: Basal metabolic rate ; Body mass ; Food intake ; Garden Warbler ; Physiological flexibility ; Temperature acclimation]
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Journal publication date2004

ID: 367979