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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2001 May-Jun;74(3):343-55.

Individual variation in field metabolic rate of kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) during the chick-rearing period.

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  • 1Department of Arctic Biology, University of Tromsø, NO-9037 Tromsø, Norway.


Field metabolic rate (FMR), using the doubly labelled water (DLW) method, was measured in free-ranging adult kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) early and late in the chick-rearing period at Svalbard, Norway. Individual variation in FMR was analysed by comparing FMR with body mass, sex, nest attendance, chick age, brood size, and basal metabolic rate (BMR). Mean FMR of kittiwakes during the chick-rearing period was 27.0+/-0.9 (SE) W kg(-1), while the individual variation (calculated as coefficient of variation [CV]) in FMR was 24%. Sex, time spent away from the nest, age of the chicks, and brood size contributed significantly to FMR and explained 65% of the variation in FMR. The FMR increased by 32% from early until late in the chick-rearing period. This occurred simultaneously with an increase in the time spent away from the nest. In 15 of 20 pairs, one of the mates had 15% or higher (mean of the 15 pairs, 22%+/-8%) FMR (W kg(-1)) than their partner, even though the mates spent equal amounts of time away from the nest. This indicates an intrapair conflict in FMR. The variation in total FMR of pairs was 40% less than the individual variation, and total FMR of pairs increased with age of the chicks. This indicates that the mates adjust their energy expenditure within a relatively constant FMR determined by the energy needs of the chicks. Individual variation in FMR could not be explained by variation in body mass or BMR. BMR measured late in the chick-rearing period was 26% lower than previous measurements of BMR from the prebreeding and incubation periods. The increase in FMR and simultaneous decrease in BMR caused a 40% increase in metabolic intensity (FMR/BMR) of kittiwakes during the chick-rearing period. It is suggested that the metabolic intensity is not a proper measure of the metabolic load in seabirds.

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