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Strategic diel regulation of body mass in European robins

Thomas, Robert J. ORCID: 2000. Strategic diel regulation of body mass in European robins. Animal Behaviour 59 (4) , pp. 787-791. 10.1006/anbe.1999.1360

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Stochastic dynamic programming (SDP) is a computational technique that has been used to model daily routines of foraging in small birds. A diurnal bird must build up its fat reserves towards dusk in order to avoid starvation during the night, when it cannot feed. However, as well as the benefits of avoiding starvation, storing fat imposes costs such as an increased predation risk and higher flight and metabolic costs. There is therefore an optimal level of fat reserves for a bird to reach at dusk in order to survive overnight without being left with excessive fat reserves at dawn. I tested a prediction common to all SDP models of daily foraging routines, that a bird will attempt to reach this level at dusk, regardless of its fat reserves the previous dawn. I provided supplementary food to manipulate the fat reserves at dawn of free-living European robins, Erithacus rubecula. Diurnal changes in body mass (a reliable estimate of fat reserves) were then monitored remotely. Robins provided with an ad libitum food supply reached almost exactly the same body mass at dusk, regardless of their body mass at dawn, supporting the prediction that birds attempt to reach a target level of reserves at dusk.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
ISSN: 0003-3472
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 08:38

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