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Title

Adaptive fault bar distribution in a long-distance migratory, aerial forager passerine?

AuthorsSerrano, David ; Jovani, Roger
Keywordsbarn swallow
fault bar allocation hypothesis
feathers
flight requirements
Hirundo rustica
stress bands
Issue DateAug-2005
PublisherLinnean Society of London
CitationBiological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2005, 85, 455 – 461
AbstractFault bars are translucent bands produced by stressful events during feather formation. They weaken feathers and increase their probability of breakage, and thus could compromise bird fitness by lowering flight performance. It has been recently suggested (‘fault bar allocation hypothesis’) that birds could have evolved adaptive mechanisms for reducing fault bar load on the feathers with the highest function during flight. We tested this hypothesis by studying first-year individuals of the long-distance migratory, aerial forager barn swallow Hirundo rustica. We predicted that fault bars should be less abundant on the outermost wing and tail feathers, but more frequent on the tail than on the outermost wing feathers. Accordingly, we found that fault bars occurred more often in tertials than in primaries or secondaries. Tail feathers had fewer fault bars than tertials, but more than primaries. Within the tail, the dis- tribution pattern of fault bars was W-shaped, with the highest fault bar load occurring on the streamers and on the two central feathers. Because streamers are the most important tail feathers for flight performance, this finding seems to contradict the ‘fault bar allocation hypothesis’. However, flight performance is much less sensitive to changes in the shape of the tail than of the wings, which could explain why evolutionary forces have not counteracted the increase of fault bars associated with feather elongation during the recent evolution of streamers in the tail of hirundines
Publisher version (URL)http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2005.00509.x/pdf
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/36889
DOI10.1111/j.1095-8312.2005.00509.x
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