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Gonadal status upon spring arrival in long-distance and short-distance migrating stonechats (Saxicola torquata)



Gonadal status upon spring arrival in long-distance and short-distance migrating stonechats (Saxicola torquata)



Journal of Ornithology 146(4): 325-331



Long-distance migration is often associated with relatively short breeding seasons and a start of reproductive activities shortly after arrival. The full activation of the reproductive system from the regressed state takes, however, several weeks and must, therefore, be initiated in the winter quarters or during spring migration. Hence, long-distance migrants face a potential conflict between the energetic and temporal requirements of migration and the preparation for reproduction. We studied long-distance migratory Siberian stonechats in northern Kazakhstan and short- distance migratory European stonechats in Slovakia. We hypothesized that migratory distance and gonadal status at the time of arrival are related. We found that males of both populations arrived with gonads that were not fully developed. However, the populations neither differed in gonadal state at the time of arrival, nor in the rate of testicular development to the fully active state at the time of egg laying. The rate of the last stages of gonadal development may be determined by physiological constraints rather than by a trade-off between migration and reproduction. Within populations, passage migrants and local breeders could not be distinguished on the basis of their testicular development. However, passage migrants showed higher variation in gonadal size than local breeders, which could relate to the differences in migratory distance and hence reproductive timing.

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Accession: 012130594

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DOI: 10.1007/s10336-005-0010-z


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