Estimation by use of field weighings of metabolic rate and food conversion efficiency in albatross chicks

A knowledge of the assimilation of food and of the energetic demands of chicks at different stages in the growth period can provide a basis for understanding growth strategies of seabirds. We have developed a simple model of chick weight loss between feeds that allows an estimation of metabolic costs and food-conversion efficiency in albatross chicks. The data required to provide these estimates are a series of frequent weights of a chick following a meal and the weight of food delivered in the meal. Preliminary results show a considerable variation in both food-conversion efficiency, which may reflect variation in the composition of meals delivered to chicks, and in the metabolic demands of individual chicks.