Document Detail

A simple technique to manipulate foraging costs in seed-eating birds.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21430197     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
Food availability is a key factor in ecology and evolution, but available techniques to manipulate the effort to acquire food in vertebrates are technically challenging and/or labour intensive. We present a simple technique to increase foraging costs in seed-eating birds that can be applied with little effort and at low monetary cost for prolonged periods (years) to solitary or group-housed animals. The essence of the technique is that food is offered in a container above ground level, with holes in the sides from which the food can be taken, forcing birds into energetically demanding hovering flight to forage. As a control treatment we offered a similar container but with perches mounted beneath the holes, allowing birds to eat without extra flights. Increasing foraging costs in this way induced zebra finches to double the time spent foraging, and to decrease their basal metabolic rate, in agreement with results obtained using more laborious techniques to increase foraging costs. The technique was not too severe because mortality was low during a winter with sub-zero temperatures. As foraging costs under natural conditions are generally higher than those under standard laboratory conditions, we suggest that measuring behaviour and physiology when animals have to work for food may better reflect their natural state.
Egbert Koetsier; Simon Verhulst
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of experimental biology     Volume:  214     ISSN:  1477-9145     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Exp. Biol.     Publication Date:  2011 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-03-24     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0243705     Medline TA:  J Exp Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1225-9     Citation Subset:  IM    
Behavioural Biology, Centre for Life Sciences, University of Groningen, PO Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen, The Netherlands.
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