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The involvement of prolactin in avian molt: the effects of gender and breeding success on the timing of molt in Mute swans (Cygnus olor)

Dawson, A.; Perrins, C. M.; Sharp, P. J.; Wheeler, D.; Groves, S.. 2009 The involvement of prolactin in avian molt: the effects of gender and breeding success on the timing of molt in Mute swans (Cygnus olor). General and Comparative Endocrinology, 161 (2). 267-270. 10.1016/j.ygcen.2009.01.016

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Abstract/Summary

The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that decreasing plasma prolactin stimulates or permits the initiation of avian molt. Changes in the concentration of plasma prolactin in Mute swans (Cygnus olor) were compared in non-breeding singletons and breeding pairs. In breeding swans, the onset of molt is delayed compared to non-breeders, and is delayed further in breeding males compared to their female partners. The seasonal decrease in prolactin in non-breeding birds of both sexes started at the end of May and was associated with the initiation of molt 4 weeks later. The decrease in plasma prolactin in incubating females was more pronounced, as a consequence of increased prolactin secretion associated with incubation behaviour, but also started at end of May, and was associated the onset of moult 6 weeks later. In breeding males, plasma prolactin increased at the end of May when they started to care for their newly hatched cygnets. Correspondingly, prolactin began to decrease 3-5 weeks later in males than in females. These males started to molt in mid August, at least 4 weeks later than females. It is concluded that molt is related to decreasing plasma prolactin, and is inhibited when plasma prolactin is increasing or high.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.ygcen.2009.01.016
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > BD01 Conservation and Restoration of Biodiversity > BD01.3 Population and community processes
CEH Sections: Watt
ISSN: 0016-6480
Additional Keywords: molt, prolactin, incubation, Mute swan
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Date made live: 18 Mar 2009 09:16
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/6574

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