Theunis Piersma

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Birds on migration alternate between consuming fuel stores during flights and accumulating fuel stores during stopovers. The optimal timing and length of flights and stopovers for successful migration depend heavily on the extra metabolic power input (fuel use) required to carry the fuel stores during flight. The effect of large fuel loads on metabolic(More)
Knots Calidris canutus live highly seasonal lives, breeding solitarily on high arctic tundra and spending the non-breeding season in large social flocks in temperate to tropical estuaries. Their reproductive activities and physiological preparations for long flights are reflected in pronounced plumage and body mass changes, even in long-term captives of the(More)
Since the early 1960s it has been held that migrating birds deposit and use only fat as fuel during migratory flight, with the non-fat portion of the body remaining homeostatic. Recent evidence from field studies has shown large changes in organ sizes in fuelling birds, and theory on fuel use suggests protein may be a necessary fuel during flight. However,(More)
Organ structures and correlated metabolic features (e.g. metabolic rate) have often taken as fixed attributes of fully grown individual vertebrates. When measurements of these attributes became available they were often used as representative values for the species, disregarding the specific conditions during which the mesurement were made. Evidence is(More)
Mountain ranges, deserts, ice fields and oceans generally act as barriers to the movement of land-dependent animals, often profoundly shaping migration routes. We used satellite telemetry to track the southward flights of bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri), shorebirds whose breeding and non-breeding areas are separated by the vast central Pacific(More)
We used ultrasonic imaging to monitor short-term changes in the pectoral muscle size of captive red knots Calidris canutus. Pectoral muscle thickness changed rapidly and consistently in parallel with body mass changes caused by flight, fasting and fuelling. Four knots flew repeatedly for 10 h periods in a wind tunnel. Over this period, pectoral muscle(More)
The ability to change organ size reversibly can be advantageous to birds that perform long migrations. During winter, red knots (Calidris canutus) feed on shellfish and carry a muscular gizzard that weighs 10% of their body mass. Gizzard size decreases when these birds eat soft foods, e.g. while breeding in the tundra. We studied the reversibility and time(More)
The adaptive value of size changes in different organ and muscle groups was studied in red knots (Calidris canutus islandica) in relation to their migration. Birds were sampled on five occasions: at arrival in Iceland in May 1994, two times during subsequent refueling, at departure toward, and on return from, the high arctic breeding grounds. During their(More)
Throughout the annual cycle, demands on competing physiological systems change, and animals must allocate resources to maximize fitness. Immune function is one such system and is important for survival. Yet detailed empirical data tracking immune function over the entire annual cycle are lacking for most wild animals. We measured constitutive immune indices(More)
The specific roles of corticosterone in promotion of avian migration remain unclear even though this glucocorticosteroid is elevated in many migrating bird species. In general, glucocorticosteroids promote metabolic homeostasis and may elicit effects on feeding and locomotion. Because the migratory stages of refueling and flight are characterized by(More)