The Cayumapu River black-necked swan (Cygnus melanocoryphus) population in southern Chile suffered a syndrome of malnutrition and hyperferremia in 2005. The iron metabolic imbalance could not be explained on the basis of the quality of their diet. Hence, the primary objective of this study was to determine the relationship between malnutrition and iron homeostasis in black-necked swans. It was proposed that catabolic processes could increase serum iron levels due to the release of endogenous iron from tissues. A free-living swan population undergoing natural nutritional imbalance due to molting was studied. In addition, swans captured were subjected to a diet restriction until they became emaciated. The results revealed that neither lipolytic activity nor emaciation affected serum iron concentrations. The increment of total iron binding capacity observed was in agreement with the reduction of endogenous iron stored, with the increase of erythropoeitic demand, or with both. Future studies are needed to determine the effect of incremental erythropoietic activity on iron homeostasis in anemic, malnourished birds.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4