Dr Peter Tickle

I am a post-doctoral researcher in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester. As part of the Chicken of the Future project, my current research is focused on the implications for respiratory and locomotor physiology of rapid growth and high body mass in broiler chickens. Using a range of state of the art techniques, I am documenting how the morphology, physiology and behaviour of commercially reared chickens change over the course of their development, from embryo to adult.

Specifically, I am interested in how birds breathe and the potential constraint that is imposed by large breast muscles, which are a desirable trait in birds reared for the table. Birds utilise up-and-down movements of the sternum to pump air around their respiratory system. Therefore heavy breast muscles that also have to be moved with the sternum may impose an extra energetic cost to breathing and may contribute to many illnesses and pathologies suffered by commercial chickens.  By quantifying developmental changes in musculoskeletal parameters, the rate of energy consumption while resting and active and the behavioural state of growing chickens we aim to increase our understanding of avian breathing mechanics and consequently improve the welfare of domestic chickens.

My wider research interests include evolutionary physiology and the biomechanics and energetics of breathing and locomotion in tetrapods.