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Changes in nectar concentration: how quickly do whitebellied sunbirds (Cinnyris talatala) adjust feeding patterns and food intake?

Köhler, A., Verburgt, L., Fleming, P.A. and Nicolson, S.W. (2008) Changes in nectar concentration: how quickly do whitebellied sunbirds (Cinnyris talatala) adjust feeding patterns and food intake? Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 178 (6). pp. 785-793.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00360-008-0269-5
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Abstract

Nectarivorous birds encounter varying nectar concentrations while foraging on different food plants and must adjust their consumption to maintain constant energy intake. We determined how rapidly captive whitebellied sunbirds (Cinnyris talatala) adjust their volumetric intake and feeding patterns after changes in diet concentration. On four consecutive days, birds were fed sucrose diets alternating between a standard diet of 16% w/w and test diets of 2.5, 8.5, 16 or 30% w/w, respectively, for 1.5 h periods. Feeding events were recorded with an infrared photo-detection system and food intake and body mass were monitored continuously by electronic balances interfaced to a computer. Generally, birds demonstrated a measurable increase in feeding frequency and food intake within 10 min after a decrease in sucrose concentration. However, individuals responded differently to the most dilute diet (2.5%): while most increased their food intake, others stopped feeding for a short while, appearing to dislike this diet. Furthermore, the number and duration of feeding events increased in the first 5 min after the switch from 2.5% back to 16%, as the birds attempted to compensate for previous reduced sugar intake. Daily sugar intake was lower when birds alternated between 2.5 and 16% diets than on other test days, but birds were able to maintain body mass, presumably through behavioural adjustments.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Copyright: © 2008 Springer-Verlag.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/4707
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