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Osmoregulatory response to acute diet change in an avian nectarivore: rapid rehydration following water shortage

Fleming, P.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-0626-3851, Gray, D.A. and Nicolson, S.W. (2004) Osmoregulatory response to acute diet change in an avian nectarivore: rapid rehydration following water shortage. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 138 (3). pp. 321-326.

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Nectarivores may be required to switch between water conservation and water excretion as rapidly as they change food plants in nature. We examined the rehydration response in Whitebellied Sunbirds (Nectarinia talatala) that had been fed a concentrated sucrose diet (2.5 mol/l) for 2 days and then were switched to a diet 10× less concentrated (0.25 mol/l) on the morning of the third day. We measured water gain as well as cloacal fluid (CF) volume hourly over 12 h, and analysed CF osmolality and calculated osmotic excretion. CF was also assayed for the osmoregulatory hormone aldosterone (ALDO). As in most water-deprived birds, whitebellied sunbirds cope with water shortage when fed a concentrated sugar diet by almost completely ceasing to void CF. Although osmolality of CF is high, volumes are not sufficient to maintain a steady rate of excretion and the birds retain osmolytes. Immediately upon switching to dilute diet, sunbirds produce copious volumes of CF and osmotic excretion is elevated and maintained at high levels over the first 6 h of rehydration. This stabilises by the afternoon at levels expected for hydrated birds. Some 2-3 h after peak osmotic excretion, there is a peak in the discrepancy between water intake and output, mirrored in an increase in ALDO output. These data suggest that excretion of retained osmolytes is undertaken as soon as water is available, with changes in the body fluid composition occurring subsequently. This study vindicates the use of CF to obtain repeated measurements of changes in the osmoregulatory steroid ALDO in small birds.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2004 Elsevier Inc.
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