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On fuel choice and water balance during migratory bird flights.

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It has been proposed that water loss during flight in migratory birds under high evaporative conditions can be offset by the production of water through increased protein catabolism. Indeed, oxidation of protein may supply 7-times more water/kJ than fat. However, the lack of a relative increase in protein catabolism over that of fat during long flights indicates that processes other than water balance may be the primary drivers of protein catabolism during long and strenuous flights. These processes include the release of stress hormones (which increase both protein and fat catabolism) and protein catabolism triggered by increased oxidative damage to muscle proteins from reactive oxygen species produced by mitochondria. Protein catabolism is an important source of water for birds during migratory flight, but it remains to be determined if this process is directly regulated by hydration status.

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