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Interpopulation Variation in Contour Feather Structure Is Environmentally Determined in Great Tits

Broggi, Juli; Gamero, Anna; Hohtola, Esa; Orell, Markku and Nilsson, Jan-Åke LU (2011) In PLoS ONE 6(9).
Abstract
Background: The plumage of birds is important for flying, insulation and social communication. Contour feathers cover most of the avian body and among other functions they provide a critical insulation layer against heat loss. Feather structure and composition are known to vary among individuals, which in turn determines variation in the insulation properties of the feather. However, the extent and the proximate mechanisms underlying this variation remain unexplored. Methodology/Principal Findings: We analyzed contour feather structure from two different great tit populations adapted to different winter regimes, one northern population in Oulu (Finland) and one southern population in Lund (Sweden). Great tits from the two populations... (More)
Background: The plumage of birds is important for flying, insulation and social communication. Contour feathers cover most of the avian body and among other functions they provide a critical insulation layer against heat loss. Feather structure and composition are known to vary among individuals, which in turn determines variation in the insulation properties of the feather. However, the extent and the proximate mechanisms underlying this variation remain unexplored. Methodology/Principal Findings: We analyzed contour feather structure from two different great tit populations adapted to different winter regimes, one northern population in Oulu (Finland) and one southern population in Lund (Sweden). Great tits from the two populations differed significantly in feather structure. Birds from the northern population had a denser plumage but consisting of shorter feathers with a smaller proportion containing plumulaceous barbs, compared with conspecifics from the southern population. However, differences disappeared when birds originating from the two populations were raised and moulted in identical conditions in a common-garden experiment located in Oulu, under ad libitum nutritional conditions. All birds raised in the aviaries, including adult foster parents moulting in the same captive conditions, developed a similar feather structure. These feathers were different from that of wild birds in Oulu but similar to wild birds in Lund, the latter moulting in more benign conditions than those of Oulu. Conclusions/Significance: Wild populations exposed to different conditions develop contour feather differences either due to plastic responses or constraints. Environmental conditions, such as nutrient availability during feather growth play a crucial role in determining such differences in plumage structure among populations. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
PLoS ONE
volume
6
issue
9
publisher
Public Library of Science
external identifiers
  • wos:000295257900037
  • scopus:80052878543
ISSN
1932-6203
DOI
10.1371/journal.pone.0024942
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
bbae2935-8c6d-487d-aaab-bedbcd39f47e (old id 2212223)
date added to LUP
2011-11-23 15:10:40
date last changed
2017-11-19 03:50:22
@article{bbae2935-8c6d-487d-aaab-bedbcd39f47e,
  abstract     = {Background: The plumage of birds is important for flying, insulation and social communication. Contour feathers cover most of the avian body and among other functions they provide a critical insulation layer against heat loss. Feather structure and composition are known to vary among individuals, which in turn determines variation in the insulation properties of the feather. However, the extent and the proximate mechanisms underlying this variation remain unexplored. Methodology/Principal Findings: We analyzed contour feather structure from two different great tit populations adapted to different winter regimes, one northern population in Oulu (Finland) and one southern population in Lund (Sweden). Great tits from the two populations differed significantly in feather structure. Birds from the northern population had a denser plumage but consisting of shorter feathers with a smaller proportion containing plumulaceous barbs, compared with conspecifics from the southern population. However, differences disappeared when birds originating from the two populations were raised and moulted in identical conditions in a common-garden experiment located in Oulu, under ad libitum nutritional conditions. All birds raised in the aviaries, including adult foster parents moulting in the same captive conditions, developed a similar feather structure. These feathers were different from that of wild birds in Oulu but similar to wild birds in Lund, the latter moulting in more benign conditions than those of Oulu. Conclusions/Significance: Wild populations exposed to different conditions develop contour feather differences either due to plastic responses or constraints. Environmental conditions, such as nutrient availability during feather growth play a crucial role in determining such differences in plumage structure among populations.},
  author       = {Broggi, Juli and Gamero, Anna and Hohtola, Esa and Orell, Markku and Nilsson, Jan-Åke},
  issn         = {1932-6203},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {9},
  publisher    = {Public Library of Science},
  series       = {PLoS ONE},
  title        = {Interpopulation Variation in Contour Feather Structure Is Environmentally Determined in Great Tits},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0024942},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2011},
}