University of Oulu

Broggi, J., Nilsson, J.F., Koivula, K. et al. Oecologia (2019) 189: 339.

Mass or pace? Seasonal energy management in wintering boreal passerines

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Author: Broggi, Juli1,2; Nilsson, Johan F.1; Koivula, Kari3;
Organizations: 1Section of Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden
2Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC), Seville, Spain
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-07-02


Research on winter energy management in small vertebrates has focused on the regulation of body mass (BM) within a framework of starvation-predation trade-off. Winter-acclimatized birds exhibit a seasonal increase in both BM and basal metabolic rate (BMR), although the patterns of co-variation between the two traits remain unknown. We studied this co-variation in three different species of wild titmice, great, blue and willow tits, originating from two boreal regions at different latitudes. Seasonal change in BM and BMR was inter-dependent, particularly in the great tit; however, by contrast, no seasonal change was observed in the willow tit. BMR changed non-linearly in concert with BM with a peak in midwinter for both blue and great tits, whereas such non-linear pattern in willow tit was opposite and independent of BM. Surprisingly, BMR appears to be more sensitive to ambient temperatures than BM in all three species studied. Energy management is a multifaceted strategy that cannot be fully understood without considering reserve levels and energy expenditure simultaneously. Thus, our study indicates that the prevailing conceptual framework based on variation in BM alone is insufficient to understand seasonal energy management in small wintering passerines.

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Series: Oecologia
ISSN: 0029-8549
ISSN-E: 1432-1939
ISSN-L: 0029-8549
Volume: 189
Issue: 2
Pages: 339 - 351
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-018-04332-6
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: JB has been funded by the Andalucía Talent Hub Program launched by the Andalusian Knowledge Agency, co-funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program, Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (COFUND—Grant agreement no. 291780) and the Ministry of Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment of the Junta de Andalucía. Supported by the Academy of Finland projects no. 102286 and 47195, and the Thule Institute of the University of Oulu (EH) and by grants from the Swedish Research Council no. S-AA/F0 09677-311, B 650- 19981108/2000, 629-2002-1893 and 621-2003-2912 (JÅN).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.