Plasma chemistry of the chinstrap penguin Pygoscelis antarctica during fasting periods: a case of poor adaptation to food deprivation?
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The chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica) is the smallest penguin species to be used to study the physiology of fasting. We analysed body-mass change and plasma chemistry of five non-breeding chinstraps during an experimental fasting period in the breeding season. We also analysed the same parameters in six fasting birds under natural conditions (during an incubation shift, which lasts about 10 days). Both groups presented similar patterns of change, showing a rapid increase in urea and uric acid plasma concentrations. Urea surpassed 3 mmol/l after 5 fasting days, while uric acid reached 1 mmol/l after 9 days. Plasma glucose levels decreased after 11 days, whereas cholesterol also showed a clear reduction during fasting. These results as a whole suggest that chinstrap penguins reached phase III after a short period in comparison with other Pygoscelis species. Body size and ecological factors could explain these inter-specific differences.
KeywordsUric Acid Breeding Season Food Deprivation Plasma Glucose Level Plasma Chemistry
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