Data from: Post-hatch heat warms adult beaks: irreversible physiological plasticity in Japanese quail
Cite this dataset
Burness, Gary; Huard, Jacqueline R.; Malcolm, Emily; Tattersall, Glenn J. (2013). Data from: Post-hatch heat warms adult beaks: irreversible physiological plasticity in Japanese quail [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gs661
Across taxa, the early rearing environment contributes to adult morphological and physiological variation. For example, in birds, environmental temperature plays a key role in shaping bill size and clinal trends across latitudinal/thermal gradients. Such patterns support the role of the bill as a thermal window and in thermal balance. It remains unknown whether bill size and thermal function are reversibly plastic. We raised Japanese quail in warm (30°C) or cold (15°C) environments and then at a common intermediate temperature. We predicted that birds raised in cold temperatures would develop smaller bills than warm-reared individuals, and that regulation of blood flow to the bill in response to changing temperatures would parallel the bill's role in thermal balance. Cold-reared birds developed shorter bills, although bill size exhibited ‘catch-up’ growth once adults were placed at a common temperature. Despite having lived in a common thermal environment as adults, individuals that were initially reared in the warmth had higher bill surface temperatures than cold-reared individuals, particularly under cold conditions. This suggests that blood vessel density and/or the control over blood flow in the bill retained a memory of early thermal ontogeny. We conclude that post-hatch temperature reversibly affects adult bill morphology but irreversibly influences the thermal physiological role of bills and may play an underappreciated role in avian energetics.