Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Identifier

381

Date

2011

Date of Award

7-27-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Biology

Committee Chair

Matthew James Parris

Committee Member

Stephan J Schoech

Abstract

Delayed plumage maturation (DPM) is a phenomenon in which birds retain immature plumage until their second breeding season despite reaching sexual maturity earlier. This study investigated DPM in Amethyst Sunbirds (Chalcomitra amethystina) and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds (Chalcomitra senegalensis). I used museum specimens to describe duration, intensity and scheduling of molt in immature and adult males. I hypothesized that in these African Sunbirds 1) rainfall seasonality acts as a molt constraint and 2) molt intensity and duration differ between age groups. I found that while primary molt was initiated during the rainy season, body molt occurred at low intensities throughout the year. Age-based differences in molt intensity and duration were largely inconclusive. I also documented the occurrence of interrupted molt, which indicates that molt is energetically constrained. Low intensity and interrupted molt may be adaptive strategies which allow balance among molt, nomadic movements and opportunistic breeding in a changing and unpredictable environment.

Comments

Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.

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