Parasitism, developmental plasticity and bilateral asymmetry of wingfeathers in alpine swift, Apus melba, nestlings

Alpine Swift (Apus melba) Science Article 8


The hypothesis that developmental instability is a cost of developmental plasticity isexplored using the alpine swift (Apus melba) as a model organism. In a previous study,experimentally parasitized nestlings showed a reduced wing growth rate in the first halfof the rearing period when parasites were abundant (i.e. peak infestation) and anaccelerated growth rate (i.e. compensatory growth) in the second half when parasitesdecreased in number. This suggests that alpine swifts are able to adjust growth rate inrelation to variation in parasite loads.

Pierre Bize, Alexandre Roulin and Heinz Richner, OIKOS 106: 317-323, 2004

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