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Early nutrition causes persistent effects on pheasant morphology

  • Thomas Ohlsson
  • Henrik Smith
Publishing year: 2001
Language: English
Pages: 212-218
Publication/Series: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
Volume: 74
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract english

Differences in growth conditions during early ontogeny have been suggested to cause permanent effects on the morphology and quality of birds. Yearly variation in growth conditions could thus result in morphological and quality differences between cohorts. In this study, we investigated the effect of small differences in the dietary protein content of captive ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) during their first 8 wk posthatching. An experimental increase of the proportion of dietary protein during the first 3 wk of life accelerated growth, whereas a similar manipulation during the following 5 wk had only a limited effect. Compensatory growth during the postexperimental period equalized the size of chicks from different experimental treatments. However, a difference in tarsus length resulting from experimental treatment during the first 3 wk remained into adulthood. Furthermore, the protein content of the diet during the first 3 wk had an effect on the degree of fluctuating asymmetry in tarsus length, suggesting persistent effects on the quality of birds. The results of this study may explain size differences between cohorts that exist in pheasants and may also provide a link between the use of pesticides in agriculture and population effects on pheasants.


  • Ecology


  • ISSN: 1522-2152
Henrik Smith
E-mail: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56




Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden