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Various bird species regularly fast in connection with breeding, migration, or dr astic climatic conditions.

The metabolic response of penguins and domestic geese to fasting has been studied in detail. These large birds, in contrast to small species, do not become torpid when they are fasting. Nevertheless, they reduce t heir rate of energy expenditure by decreasing both resting metabolic rate and lo comotor activity. From changes in the loss of body mass, the fast of penguins an d geese has been divided into three phases: I, the loss of body mass decreases; II, it remains at a minimum level; and III, it increases. These phases reflect m etabolic adjustments. Phase I is a rapid phase of adaptation, marked by a decrea se in protein catabolism and mobilization of lipids. Phase II is a phase of econ omy, during which more than 90% of the energy expenditure derives from lipids, w hile protein catabolism remains at a minimum level. In phase III there still are lipid reserves and this phase is reversible; it is, however, critical because p roteins are no longer spared. Data in the literature suggest that these three ph ases may also be used to describe how a wide variety of wild and domestic birds adapt to fasting. Physiology and biochemistry of long-term fasting in birds Yves Cherel, Jean-Patrice Robin, Yvon Le Maho NUTRITION, PHYSIOLOGY, AND STABLE ISOTOPES: NEW INFORMATION FROM FASTING AND MOL TING PENGUINS Yves Cherel1,,4, Keith A. Hobson2, Frdric Bailleul1, and Ren Groscolas3 1Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chiz, UPR 1934 du CNRS, BP 14, 79360 Villiers-enBois, France 2Prairie and Northern Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada, Saskatchewan S7N 0X4 Canada 3Centre d'Ecologie et Physiologie Energtiques, CNRS, 67087 Strasbourg Cedex 02, F rance Stable isotopes are increasingly used in animal ecology, but little attention ha s been paid to the underlying physiological processes accounting for changes in 15N/14N and 13C/12C ratios, for example, the influence of protein balance on 15N values. We investigated a professional faster, the King Penguin (Aptenodytes patag onicus), to test the effect of long-term food deprivation on the isotopic signat ure of tissues that can be nondestructively sampled, i.e., blood and feathers. F asting for 25 days induced a tissue 15N enrichment, thus leading to a moderate i ncrease in the apparent trophic levels of penguins. As expected, 15N enrichment was higher in tissues with high protein turnover rates (e.g., plasma, 0.70) than in those with low turnover rates (e.g., blood cells, 0.24). Fasting decreased the 13C value of plasma, which was due to an increase in its lipid content, as indic ated by a concomitant rise in plasma C/N ratio. Finally, food deprivation induce d a 15N enrichment in keratin (1.68), as indicated by the lower nitrogen signatur e for portions of new feathers that were synthesized at sea than for those parts grown on land, thus illustrating the different pathways for resource allocation (dietary vs. endogenous reserves) in molting birds. The study also emphasized t he usefulness of collecting whole blood (or blood cells) in the field to overcom e both the fasting and lipid effects observed in plasma.

Read More: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/05-0562