Control of molt in birds: association with prolactin and gonadal regression in starlings

Dawson, Alistair. 2006 Control of molt in birds: association with prolactin and gonadal regression in starlings. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 147. 314-322.

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Despite the importance of molt to birds, very little is known about its environmental or physiological control. In starlings Sturnus vulgaris, and other species, under both natural conditions and experimental regimes, gonadal regression coincides with peak prolactin secretion. The prebasic molt starts at the same time. The aim of this series of experiments was to keep starlings on photo-schedules that would challenge the normally close relationship between gonadal regression and molt, to determine how closely the start of molt is associated with gonadal regression and/or associated changes in prolactin concentrations. In one series of experiments, photosensitive starlings were moved from a short photoperiod, 8 h light per day (8L), to 13 or 18L, and from 13 to 18L or 13 to 8L during testicular maturation. Later, photorefractory birds under 13L that had finished molting were moved to 18L. In another series of experiments, photorefractory starlings were moved from 18 to 8L for 7 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week, 3 days, 1 day, or 0 days, before being returned to 18L. There was no consistent relationship between photoperiod, or the increase in photoperiod, and the timing of the start of molt. Nor was there a consistent relationship with gonadal regression and the start of molt–molt could be triggered in the absence of a gonadal cycle. However, there was always an association between the start of molt and prolactin. In all cases where molt was induced, there had been an earlier increase in prolactin. However, the timing of molt was related to the time of peak prolactin, not the magnitude of that peak. This relationship between peak prolactin and the start of molt could explain the normally close relationship between the end of breeding activity and the start of molt

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Ecological Risk
ISSN: 0016-6480
Additional Keywords: molt, prolactin, bird, starling, annual cycle, photoperiodism
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 29 Apr 2008 08:24 +0 (UTC)

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