The structure and sensory innervation of the integument of ratites

Weir K. A. and Lunam C. A. (2011). The structure and sensory innervation of the integument of ratites. In Phil Glatz, Christine Lunam and Irek Malecki (Ed.), The welfare of farmed ratites (pp. 131-145) Berlin; Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-19297-5_7

Author Weir K. A.
Lunam C. A.
Title of chapter The structure and sensory innervation of the integument of ratites
Title of book The welfare of farmed ratites
Place of Publication Berlin; Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer-Verlag
Publication Year 2011
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19297-5_7
Series Animal Welfare
ISBN 9783642192968
ISSN 1572-7408
Editor Phil Glatz
Christine Lunam
Irek Malecki
Volume number 11
Chapter number 7
Start page 131
End page 145
Total pages 15
Total chapters 11
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
This chapter reviews the microanatomy and innervation of the integument of the ostrich and the emu. We consider how these structures enable ratites to interact with their environment and how damage to the skin may compromise the welfare of the birds. The skins of the ostrich and the emu are structurally very similar. The epidermis is very thin and therefore provides little protection against mechanical injury. Waterproofing of the skin is aided by keratin and lipids produced by sebokeratinocytes. The dense connective tissue of the dermis is organised into two distinct layers: a thin stratum superficiale and an extensive stratum compactum. The paucity of elastic fibres suggests that both the strength and flexibility of the skin is due to the three-dimensional cross-weave arrangement of the collagen bundles. The high vascularity near the surface explains why the skin bruises easily during normal behaviours, as well as during handling and transport. Free nerve endings, with peptide combinations similar to mammalian nociceptors, have been reported in emu skin. Injury to the skin is therefore likely to inflict pain via stimulation of these nerves. Herbst corpuscles are mechanoreceptors found near the contour feathers of both the ostrich and emu. Their likely function in ratites is to detect feather movement. Filoplumes and bristle hairs invariably form a semicircular pattern caudal to the contour feather follicle in ostrich skin. Their interfollicular distribution, however, is highly variable between different flocks. Their potential function as mechanoreceptors, the possibility of a genetic heritability of these traits, and their effects on skin quality after tanning are discussed.
Keyword Filoplumes
Ratite integument
Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Book Chapter
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Biomedical Sciences Publications
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Created: Fri, 21 Oct 2011, 11:16:37 EST by Kristy Weir on behalf of School of Biomedical Sciences