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Respiratory mechanics of eleven avian species resident at high and low altitude


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York, JM, Chua, BA, Ivy, CM, Alza, L, Cheek, R, Scott, GR, McCracken, KG, Frappell, PB, Dawson, NJ, Lague, SL and Milsom, WK 2017 , 'Respiratory mechanics of eleven avian species resident at high and low altitude' , Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 220, no. 6 , pp. 1079-1089 , doi: 10.1242/jeb.151191.

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The metabolic cost of breathing at rest has never been successfully measured in birds, but has been hypothesized to be higher than in mammals of a similar size because of the rocking motion of the avian sternum being encumbered by the pectoral flight muscles. To measure the cost and work of breathing, and to investigate whether species resident at high altitude exhibit morphological or mechanical changes that alter the work of breathing, we studied 11 species of waterfowl: five from high altitudes (>3000 m) in Peru, and six from low altitudes in Oregon, USA. Birds were anesthetized and mechanically ventilated in sternal recumbency with known tidal volumes and breathing frequencies. The work done by the ventilator was measured, and these values were applied to the combinations of tidal volumes and breathing frequencies used by the birds to breathe at rest. We found the respiratory system of high-altitude species to be of a similar size, but consistently more compliant than that of low altitude sister taxa, although this did not translate to a significantly reduced work of breathing. The metabolic cost of breathing was estimated to be between 1 and 3% of basal metabolic rate, as low or lower than estimates for other groups of tetrapods.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:York, JM and Chua, BA and Ivy, CM and Alza, L and Cheek, R and Scott, GR and McCracken, KG and Frappell, PB and Dawson, NJ and Lague, SL and Milsom, WK
Keywords: avian respiratory system, compliance, hypoxia, pulmonary mechanics, waterfowl, work of breathing
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Experimental Biology
Publisher: Company Of Biologists Ltd
ISSN: 0022-0949
DOI / ID Number: 10.1242/jeb.151191
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

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