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Title: A quantitative analysis of flight feather replacement in the moustached tree swift Hemiprocne mystacea, a tropical aerial forager
Authors: Rohwer, S.
Wang, L.-K. 
Issue Date: 2010
Citation: Rohwer, S., Wang, L.-K. (2010). A quantitative analysis of flight feather replacement in the moustached tree swift Hemiprocne mystacea, a tropical aerial forager. PLoS ONE 5 (7) : -. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The functional life span of feathers is always much less than the potential life span of birds, so feathers must be renewed regularly. But feather renewal entails important energetic, time and performance costs that must be integrated into the annual cycle. Across species the time required to replace flight feather increases disproportionately with body size, resulting in complex, multiple waves of feather replacement in the primaries of many large birds. We describe the rules of flight feather replacement for Hemiprocne mystacea, a small, 60g tree swift from the New Guinea region. This species breeds and molts in all months of the year, and flight feather molt occurs during breeding in some individuals. H. mystacea is one to be the smallest species for which stepwise replacement of the primaries and secondaries has been documented; yet, primary replacement is extremely slow in this aerial forager, requiring more than 300 days if molt is not interrupted. We used growth bands to show that primaries grow at an average rate of 2.86 mm/d. The 10 primaries are a single molt series, while the 11 secondaries and five rectrices are each broken into two molt series. In large birds stepwise replacement of the primaries serves to increase the rate of primary replacement while minimizing gaps in the wing. But stepwise replacement of the wing quills in H. mystacea proceeds so slowly that it may be a consequence of the ontogeny of stepwise molting, rather than an adaptation, because the average number of growing primaries is probably lower than 1.14 feathers per wing. © 2010 Rohwer, Wang.
Source Title: PLoS ONE
ISSN: 19326203
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011586
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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