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Thermoregulation in Antarctic fulmarine petrels


We measured resting metabolic rates at air temperatures between ca. −5 and 30 °C in snow petrels (Pagodroma nivea), cape petrels (Daption capense), Antarctic petrels (Thalassoica antarctica), and Antarctic fulmars (Fulmarus glacialoides). We measured seven age classes for each species: adults, and nestlings that were 3, 8, 15, 28, 35, and 42 days old. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) and thermal conductance (C) of adults averaged, respectively, 140% and 100% of values predicted allometrically for nonpasserine birds. Minimum metabolic rates of unfasted nestlings aged 15–42 days averaged, respectively, 97% and 98% of predicted adult BMR in Antarctic petrels and snow petrels, versus 119% and 126% of predicted in Antarctic fulmars and cape petrels. Nestlings of the southerly breeding snow petrel and Antarctic petrel were relatively well insulated compared with nestlings of other high-latitude seabirds. Adult lower critical temperature (Tlc) was inversely related to body mass and averaged 9 °C lower than predicted allometrically. As nestlings grew, their Tlc decreased with increasing body mass from ca. 14 to 22 °C (depending upon species) at 3 days of age, to −4 to 8 °C when nestlings attained peak mass. Nestling Tlc subsequently increased as body mass decreased during pre-fledging weight recession. Nestling Tlc was close to mean air temperature from the end of brooding until fledging in the three surface nesting species.

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Accepted: 12 July 2000

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Weathers, W., Gerhart, K. & Hodum, P. Thermoregulation in Antarctic fulmarine petrels. J Comp Physiol B 170, 561–572 (2000).

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