Stable individual profiles of daily timing migratory restlessness in European Quail 

Chronobiology International,
24 (2) : pages 253-267



Temporal characteristics of migratory behavior in birds are usually studied at the species and population levels, and rarely at the individual level. Variations among species and populations of the seasonal onset of migratory behavior have been widely investigated, but very little is known about its daily organization or whether birds are conservative in their behavior. The determination of intra- and inter-individual variability is important for the study of genetic variations and can reveal the existence of different adaptation capacities within populations. This laboratory study analyzed intra- and inter-individual variability of daily initiation and time course of nocturnal restlessness in partial-migrant European quail (Coturnix coturnix coturnix). Thirty-five quail were selected randomly from a captive stock, and their spring activity was recorded under natural daylenghs. Eighteen of the thirty-five quail presented behavioral profiles of migrant birds. Migrant birds initiated their nocturnal activity punctually, and the time courses of the nocturnal activity of 88% of them revealed intra-individual stability over six consecutive nights. All birds initiated their nocturnal activity after sunset and civil twilight, and they were more active at the beginning than the middle or end of the night, suggesting that their drive to migrate could be synchronized with particular skylight conditions. For the first time, stable individual profiles in the daily time course of migratory restlessness are shown. These results support previous findings concerning biological rhythms of quail and raise questions concerning the timing of migratory behavior.


MOTS CLES : European quail - Migratory behavior - Temporal organization - Variability - Daily profiles


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