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Giant hummingbirds: Running a little hot, but not on empty

Date:
May 9, 2011
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Scientists have long thought that the giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas) was just about as big as a hummingbird could get. They're nearly twice the size of the next largest species, and it was assumed that the energy needed for hovering flight would take the giants close to the upper metabolic limits for an animal that size. Not so, according to a new study.

Scientists have long thought that the giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas) was just about as big as a hummingbird could get. They're nearly twice the size of the next largest species, and it was assumed that the energy needed for hovering flight would take the giants close to the upper metabolic limits for an animal that size.

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Not so, according to a study led by María José Fernández of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Fernández and her colleagues measured the amount of energy burned by giant hummingbirds when hovering and at rest. They also assessed the total amount of energy that the birds use in a day.

The research found that giant hummingbirds do use more energy for their body size than smaller hummingbirds do, but they were still well below what is thought to be the upper metabolic limit. The finding suggests that metabolism is not necessarily the constraining factor in the evolution of hummingbird body size.

The research is published in the May/June 2011 issue of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. María José Fernández, Robert Dudley, Francisco Bozinovic. Comparative Energetics of the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 2011; 84 (3): 333 DOI: 10.1086/660084

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Giant hummingbirds: Running a little hot, but not on empty." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502163136.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2011, May 9). Giant hummingbirds: Running a little hot, but not on empty. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502163136.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Giant hummingbirds: Running a little hot, but not on empty." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502163136.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

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