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Data from: Nocturnal hypothermia impairs flight ability in birds: a cost of being cool

Citation

Carr, Jennie M.; Lima, Steven L. (2014), Data from: Nocturnal hypothermia impairs flight ability in birds: a cost of being cool, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fs375

Abstract

Many birds use regulated drops in night-time body temperature (Tb) to conserve energy critical to winter survival. However, a significant degree of hypothermia may limit a bird's ability to respond to predatory attack. Despite this likely energy–predation trade-off, the behavioural costs of avian hypothermia have yet to be examined. We thus monitored the nocturnal hypothermia of mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) in a laboratory setting in response to food deprivation. Nocturnal flight tests were used to quantify the flight ability of hypothermic doves. Many hypothermic doves (39% of tests) could not fly while carrying a small weight, but could do so after quickly warming up to typical daytime Tb. Doves that were unable to fly during their first test were more hypothermic than those that could fly, with average Tb reductions of 5.3°C and 3.3°C, respectively, but there was no overall indication of a threshold Tb reduction beyond which doves were consistently incapable of flight. These results suggest that energy-saving hypothermia interferes with avian antipredator behaviour via a reduction in flight ability, likely leading to a trade-off between energy-saving hypothermia and the risk of predation.

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