Avian nutrition and metabolism
The current knowledge about avian nutrition and its impacts are mainly a result of research made by the poultry industry. We still know surprisingly little about nutrition of wild birds and its effect on individual health and performance, along with the potential consequences on the population level. In our research we aim to cover a broad range of questions related to the effects of avian nutrition in the wild, specifically those arising from anthropogenic sources. Our current focus is on fatty acid composition of diets and its effects on development, health, metabolism and thermoregulation.
In 2015 we published a paper in Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution showing that urban and rural great tits differ markedly in their plasma fatty acid composition, in particularly during winter when urban birds rely more on human-provided food sources. In addition, we have shown that urban egg yolks have relativity less of the functional polyunsaturated fatty acids, suggesting that urban eggs are of poorer quality for chick development (The Science of Nature, 2016). We are currently undertaking experiments to understand the impacts of these results for avian health and performance.