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The “cost-benefit” hypothesis states that specific body organs show mass changes consistent with a trade-off between the importance of their function and cost of their maintenance. We tested four predictions from this hypothesis using data on non-breeding greylag geese Anser anser during the course of remigial moult: namely that (i) pectoral muscles and heart would atrophy followed by hypertrophy, (ii) leg muscles would hypertrophy followed by atrophy, (iii) that digestive organs and liver would atrophy followed by hypertrophy and (iv) fat depots be depleted. Dissection of geese captured on three different dates during wing moult on the Danish island of Saltholm provided data on locomotory muscles and digestive organ size that confirmed these predictions. Locomotory organs associated with flight showed initial atrophy (a maximum loss of 23% of the initial pectoral muscle mass and 37% heart tissue) followed by hypertrophy as birds regained the powers of flight. Locomotory organs associated with running (leg muscles, since geese habitually run to the safety of water from predator-type stimuli) showed initial hypertrophy (a maximum gain of 37% over initial mass) followed by atrophy. The intestines and liver showed initial atrophy (41% and 37% respectively), consistent with observed reductions in daily time spent feeding during moult, followed by hypertrophy. The majority of the 22% loss in overall body mass (mean 760 g) during the flightless period involved fat utilisation, apparently consumed to meet shortfalls between daily energetic needs and observed rates of exogenous intake. The results support the hypothesis that such phenotypic plasticity in size of fat stores, locomotor and digestive organs can be interpreted as an evolutionary adaptation to meet the conflicting needs of the wing moult.