Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 162, Issue 3, pp 389–396 | Cite as

The seasonal development of photoperiodic responsiveness in an equatorial migrant, the garden warblerSylvia borin

  • Eberhard Gwinner
  • John P. Dittami
  • Hans J. A. Beldhuis


Garden warblers (Sylvia borin) are migrating European passerines that spend the winter in tropical Africa. To investigate how photoperiod controls the annual cycles of reproduction, molt and migration, garden warblers were exposed to photoperiodic changes simulating those experienced by conspecifics with an equatorial wintering area. At three different times groups of birds were moved from a constant equatorial photoperiod of 12.8 h to a 15-h photoperiod: group 1 on November 19, group 2 on February 24, and group 3 on April 12. In all birds the changes in body weight, nocturnal migratory restlessness, testicular width or diameter of the largest oocyte, and plasma LH concentrations were determined. In addition, the birds were examined for molt. In all birds of groups 2 and 3 the transfer to long photoperiods induced a gonadal cycle associated with ‘spring’ migratory restlessness and, in the group 3 birds, an increase in LH. In group 1 only few birds showed marginal gonadal responses and the gonadal cycles of the group 2 birds were less pronounced than those of group 3. The results suggest that the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis was refractory to stimulation by long photoperiods in autumn but, later in the season, became responsive to the same long photoperiods. Unlike the situation in other temperate zone birds, the transition from the photorefractory to the photosensitive state seems to be a gradual process which develops spontaneously and with the appropriate temporal characteristics in the absence of photoperiodic change.


Seasonal Development Borin Winter Area Garden Warbler Large Oocyte 
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luteinizing hormone


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eberhard Gwinner
    • 1
  • John P. Dittami
    • 1
  • Hans J. A. Beldhuis
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieAndechsGermany

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