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1 December 2013 Ecological Constraints and Phenotypic Accommodation in One-legged Eared Grebes
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Abstract

An Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) that lost a leg in an accident increased muscle mass in its intact leg by 28%. This allowed it to forage, run along the surface to take flight, and survive for about a year before dying in a weather-induced downing. Its ultimate survival probably depended on the species' predilection for hypersaline habitats, where passive invertebrates are abundant and can be captured easily on the surface without the need to dive. Similar phenotypic accommodation may have been realized in other similarly impaired Eared Grebes. However, it seems unlikely to be achieved in other grebe species, particularly fish-eating pursuit divers, which require two intact legs and feet for propulsion and underwater maneuverability.

2013 by the Wilson Ornithological Society
Joseph R. Jehl Jr. "Ecological Constraints and Phenotypic Accommodation in One-legged Eared Grebes," The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 125(4), 829-832, (1 December 2013). https://doi.org/10.1676/13-030.1
Received: 14 February 2013; Accepted: 1 June 2013; Published: 1 December 2013
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