16 June 2009
Scaling of moult
In a New paper published in the open access journal PLoS Biology, Siewert Rowher and co-workers investigate how the duration of moult scales with body size. They find that moult takes progressively longer to complete as the bird gets larger, and argue that moult is a significant player in the evolution of body size in birds. At a size above approximately 3 kg an annual complete moult is no longer possible according to Rowher et al's analysis, and we get phenomena such as sabbaticals form breeding and 'staffelmauser'. A mechanistic explanation for the the observed scaling is also presented. The paper is also commented by Nature.