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Journal für Ornithologie

, Volume 129, Issue 4, pp 433–437 | Cite as

Is hypothermia necessary for the winter survival of the GoldcrestRegulus regulus?

  • Randi Eidsmo Reinertsen
  • Svein Haftorn
  • Ellen Thaler
Article

Summary

The Goldcrest is an interesting species for studies of physiological and behavioural adaptions to cold, since it is the smallest species present in Europe. Although many small birds have to lower their metabolic rate and enter hypothermia in order to make their energy reserves last throughout the night, our measurements of oxygen consumption of five Goldcrests suggest that these birds may be able to balance their nocturnal energy budget during the winter at normothermic body temperatures, provided that the available food supply is adequate. These results are in agreement with those of another small bird, the Common Bushtit, which, like the Goldcrest, reduce nocturnal heat loss by contact roosting. Since the energy saved by hypothermia decreases with decreasing ambient temperature and also decreasing body weight, this strategy might not be such an advantage for the smallest birds living at very low ambient temperatures.

Keywords

Basal Metabolic Rate Winter Survival Decrease Body Weight Standard Metabolic Rate Lipid Reserve 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Zusammenfassung

Am Wintergoldhähnchen als dem kleinsten europäischen Vogel interessieren besonders seine physiologischen und Verhaltens-Anpassungen an niedere Temperaturen. Viele Kleinvögel senken ihre Stoffwechselaktivität und verfallen in Hypothermie, um mit ihren Energie-Reserven während der langen Winternächte auszukommen. Unsere Untersuchungen über den O2-Verbrauch von 5 Wintergoldhähnchen legen jedoch nahe, daß sich das nächtliche Energie-Budget auch im Tiefwinter auf Normalniveau bewegt und daß sie bei ausreichendem Nahrungsangebot ihre normale Körpertemperatur auch nachts beibehalten. Ähnliche Befunde liegen von den vergleichbaren kleinen amerikanischen Buschmeisen vor, die wie Goldhähnchen den nächtlichen Wärmeverlust durch Schlafen auf engem Gefiederkontakt reduzieren. Es ist anzunehmen, daß die Hypothermie als Überwinterungsstrategie für unsere kleinsten Vögel garnicht so vorteilhaft wäre: Die durch Hypothermie eingesparte Energie geht mit abnehmender Umgebungstemperatur und mit geringerer Körpergröße wieder verloren.

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Copyright information

© Verlag der Deutschen Ornithologen-Gesellschaft 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randi Eidsmo Reinertsen
    • 1
  • Svein Haftorn
    • 2
  • Ellen Thaler
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of TrondheimDragvollNorway
  2. 2.The Museum of SciencesUniversity of TrondheimTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.AlpenzooInnsbruckAustria

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