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Metabolic and Digestive Responses to Artificial Selection in Chickens
Sue Jackson and Jared Diamond
Vol. 50, No. 4 (Aug., 1996), pp. 1638-1650
Published by: Society for the Study of Evolution
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410900
Page Count: 13
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Compared to ancestral wild jungle fowl, domestic broiler chickens have been consciously selected for large body size, relatively large pectoral muscles, rapid growth, and high feed efficiency. Hence intraspecific comparisons of these two strains could help identify consequences of unconscious artificial selection, trade-offs an energy allocation, and factors limiting energy budgets. We therefore compared our measurements of many corresponding parameters in both strains: growth rate, energy intake, digestive efficiency, metabolic rate and its components, organ masses, and intestinal brush-border nutrient transporter and hydrolase activities and capacities, as functions of age and body mass in zero- to nine-week-old chicks. Both strains prove to have the same digestive efficiency Compared to equal-sized jungle fowl, broilers have higher daily energy intake and activity costs. Broilers have relatively longer and wider, hence heavier, small intestines, and their other gut compartments are also relatively larger. Offsetting these increases, broilers have relatively smaller brains and leg bones, these being much less important to a captive bird than to a wild bird exposed to predators. Broilers have generally lower intestinal transporter activities, but relatively higher transporter capacities because of their larger guts. Among domestic chicken strains, comparison of broilers with layers, the former having been consciously selected for much higher growth rates, yields generally similar conclusions. Thus, as recognized in broad outline by Darwin, domestication provides clear examples of conscious selection, of unconscious selection for traits prerequisite to the consciously selected traits, and of unconscious selection against traits rendered less important or competing for space or energy.
Evolution © 1996 Society for the Study of Evolution