Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The oxygen consumption of European finches, the siskin (Carduelis spinus), the brambling (Fringilla montifringilla), the bullfinch (Pyrhulla pyrhulla), the greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) and the hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes), was recorded continuously while ambient temperature was decreased stepwise from +30 down to-75°C. The oxygen consumption, body temperature (telemetrically), and shivering (integrated pectoral electromyography) of greenfinches were measured simultaneously at ambient temperatures between +30 and-75°C. Maximum heat production, cold limit, lower critical temperature, basal metabolic rate and thermal conductance (of the greenfinch) were determined. The diurnal variation of oxygen consumption of siskins and greenfinches was recorded at thermoneutrality and below the thermoneutral zone in winter- and summer-acclimatized birds. The diurnal variation of body temperature and thermal conductance of greenfinches were also determined. The diurnal variation of heat production was not seasonal or temperature dependent in the siskin and in the greenfinch. Nocturnal reduction of oxygen consumption saved 15–33% energy in the siskin and greenfinch. Body temperature of the greenfinch was lowered by 2.5–3.4°C. The nocturnal reduction of thermal conductance in the greenfinch was 39–48%. The basal metabolic rate was lowest in the largest bird (hawfinch) and highest in the smallest bird (siskin). The values were in the expected range. The heat production capacity of finches in winter was 4.7 times basal metabolic rate in the siskin, 4.2 times in the brambling, 3.5 times in the greenfinch and 2.9 times in the bullfinch and hawfinch. The heat production capacity of the siskin and greenfinch was not significantly lower in summer. The cold limit temperatures (°C) in winter were-61.2 in the siskin,-41.3 in the greenfinch,-37.0 in the bullfinch,-35.7 in the brambling and-28.9 in the hawfinch. The cold limit was 14.3°C higher in summer than in winter in the siskin and 8.7°C in the greenfinch. Thermal insulation of the greenfinch was significantly better in winter than in summer. The shivering of the greenfinch increased linearly when ambient temperature was decreased down to-40°C. Maintenance of shivering was coincident with season. In severe cold integrated pectoral electromyography did not correlate with oxygen consumption as expected. The possible existence of non-shivering thermogenesis in birds is discussed. It is concluded that the acclimatization of European finches is primarily metabolic and only secondly affected by insulation.
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