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Title

Interspecific variation in deterioration and degradability of avian feathers: The evolutionary role of microorganisms

AuthorsAzcárate-García, Manuel; González-Braojos, Sonia ; Díaz-Lora, Silvia; Ruiz-Rodríguez, Magdalena ; Martín-Vivaldi, Manuel; Martínez-Bueno, Manuel; Moreno, Juan; Soler, Juan José
KeywordsFeather degrading bacteria
Feather wear
Interspecific comparisons
Keratinolytic bacteria
Nest bacterial environment
Issue DateApr-2020
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationJournal of Avian Biology 51(4): e02320 (2020)
AbstractFeathers are essential for avian life, and factors affecting their integrity are important to understand their evolution. These factors should depend on, among other traits, species‐specific bacterial environments and life‐history characteristics. However, interspecific variation in feather deterioration, feather susceptibility to degradation by keratinolytic bacteria (degradability), and bacterial environment, have rarely been quantified. Here, we did so by measuring deterioration and degradability of wing feathers of fledglings in 16 bird species, and characterizing the bacterial environment where they developed. We found statistically significant interspecific variation for all considered variables. On average, non‐melanised were more deteriorated than melanised feathers, but differences depended on the species. Moreover, nest bacterial loads were related to feathers wear, but the sign of the association depended on the bacterial group considered and on feather pigmentation. We also found a positive association of feather degradability with wear of non‐melanised feathers, and with bacterial loads. These results suggest that bacterial environments determine the integrity of fledgling feathers as well as their resistance to bacterial degradation, which implies a preponderant role of bacteria in driving the evolution of avian feathers.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/jav.02320
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/200198
DOI10.1111/jav.02320
ISSN0908-8857
E-ISSN1600-048X
ReferencesAzcárate-García, Manuel; González-Braojos, Sonia; Díaz-Lora, Silvia; Ruiz-Rodríguez, Magdalena ; Martín-Vivaldi, Manuel; Martínez-Bueno, Manuel; Moreno, Juan; Soler, Juan José; 2020; Interspecific variation in deterioration and degradability of avian feathers: The evolutionary role of microorganisms [Dataset]; DIGITAL.CSIC; http://dx.doi.org/10.20350/digitalCSIC/10547 . http://hdl.handle.net/10261/200194
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