Uptake of ingested calcium during egg production in the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

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Small passerines forage for calciferous material on a daily basis during egg laying, but beyond this general observation, mechanisms of calcium uptake are poorly understood. I investigated calcium uptake during egg laying in Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata) by administering a 5 microCi dose of radioisotopic calcium (45-Ca) by proventricular intubation exactly 1 h after oviposition. A nonlaying (control) female was dosed at the same time as each egg layer. Egg layers excreted less of the dose (<0.7 microCi) than controls (>1 microCi) over the entire ovulatory cycle. Egg layers incorporated more calcium into their skeletons than controls during the first 16 h post-dosing, but localization was similar to that of controls 16 to 24 h after the dosing period. Calcium was more than 60 times more abundant in the reproductive tissues of egg layers than in controls 8 to 16 h after the dosing period, suggesting that the majority of egg calcification occurred during this period. The decline in skeletal incorporation of 45-Ca 16 to 24 h after dosing may indicate mobilization of medullary-bone reserves to supply the calcium needed to complete shell secretion. Evidence from a number of avian species suggests that daily ingested calcium is essential for egg formation; my results show in quantitative terms the fate of ingested calcium during egg formation in the Zebra Finch
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-569
Number of pages8
JournalThe Auk
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1997


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