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Avian Energetics and Nutritional Ecology

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Avian Energetics, Ecology, and Evolution

  • Robert E. Ricklefs

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Abstract

Energy is a universal currency and standard of comparison in avian biology. Every biological structure has an energetic content; every physiological function and activity requires the metabolic transformation of energy. Energy and power (energy transformation per unit time) have been subjected to a variety of direct and indirect measurements, which partly characterize the physiology, behavior, life history, and ecological relationships of organisms. Biologists have been engaged actively in these endeavors for decades, beginning especially with the pioneering work of S. Charles Kendeigh (1934, 1939, 1949) on the energetics of the annual cycles of the House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) and other songbirds, and with the influential books by Brody (1945) and Kleiber (1961) on metabolism, growth, and reproduction. It is not surprising, then, that the discipline of evolutionary ecology, which developed during the 1960s and 1970s, focused on the management of energy in such diverse aspects of life history as foraging (Stephens and Krebs 1986; Mangel and Clark 1988; Clark 1993; Cuthill et al. 1994; Ydenberg et al. 1994; Chapter 8), migration (Blem 1990; Ramenofsky 1990; Lindstrom and Piersma 1993; Chapter 9), reproduction (Paynter 1974; Drent 1975; Sibly and Calow 1986; Chapter 10; Chapter 11), growth (Ricklefs 1974; O’Connor 1975; Roby 1991; Weathers 1992; Drent et al. 1992; Chapter 3; Chapter 12), and parent-offspring in-teraction (Hussell 1988; Kacelnik and Cuthill 1990; Ricklefs and Minot 1991; Martins and Wright 1993).