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Diet quality affects postnuptial molting and feather quality of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus): interaction with humoral immune function?

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Abstract:

We investigated the effects of nutritional limitation, humoral immune activation, and their interaction on postnuptial molting of aviary-kept house sparrows (Passer domesticus (L., 1758)). In a 2 × 2 experimental design, we measured the progress of molting and the quality of feathers produced during molting by house sparrows exposed to different diet qualities (high and low) and humoral immune activation with sheep red blood cells (SRBC). Food quality, but not the activation of humoral immunity, affected significantly the body mass and the process of molting. Sparrows feeding on low-quality food had decreased body mass and longer molts than the high-quality group. Low-quality food, but not the activation of humoral immunity, reduced significantly the length and mass (i.e., the quality) of primaries grown during molting. Birds responded significantly to injection with SRBC compared with the control group, but the immune response was similar between nutritional groups. The absence of a negative effect of humoral immunity on molting in house sparrows might be related to the low energy and nutritional requirements of mounting and maintaining a humoral immune response.

Nous étudions les effets des restrictions alimentaires, de l’activation immunitaire humorale et de leur interaction sur la mue post-nuptiale chez des moineaux domestiques (Passer domesticus (L., 1758)) gardés en volière. Dans un plan d’expérience 2 × 2, nous avons mesuré le progrès de la mue et la qualité des plumes produites par des moineaux exposés à des régimes alimentaires de qualité variable (haute et faible) et à une activation immunitaire humorale à l’aide d’érythrocytes de mouton (SRBC). La qualité de la nourriture, mais non l’activation immunitaire humorale, affecte significativement la masse corporelle et le processus de mue. Les moineaux nourris d’un régime de faible qualité ont une masse corporelle réduite et une mue prolongée par rapport aux moineaux bien nourris. La faible qualité de l’alimentation, mais non l’activation de l’immunité humorale, réduit significativement la longueur et la masse (c’est-à-dire la qualité) des pennes primaires qui poussent pendant la mue. Les oiseaux réagissent significativement à l’injection de SRBC par comparaison au groupe témoin, mais la réponse immunitaire est semblable dans les deux groupes alimentaires. L’absence d’effet négatif de l’immunité humorale sur la mue des moineaux domestiques s’explique peut-être par les exigences énergétiques et alimentaires basses requises pour l’établissement et le maintien d’une réponse immunitaire humorale.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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