Gas exchange and ventilation during dormancy in the tegu lizard Tupinambis merianae

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Company of Biologists Ltd



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The tegu lizard Tupinambis merianae exhibits an episodic ventilatory pattern when dormant at 17 degrees C but a uniform ventilatory pattern when dormant at 25 degrees C. At 17 degrees C, ventilatory episodes were composed of 1-22 breaths interspaced by non-ventilatory periods lasting 1.8-26min, Dormancy at the higher body temperature was accompanied by higher rates of O-2 consumption and ventilation. The increase in ventilation was due only to increases in breathing frequency with no change observed in tidal volume. The air convection requirement for O-2 did not differ at the two body temperatures. The respiratory quotient was 0.8 at 17 degrees C and 1.0 at 25 degrees C. We found no consistent relationship between expired gas composition and the start/end of the ventilatory period during episodic breathing at 17 degrees C. However, following non-ventilatory periods of increasing duration, there was an increase in the pulmonary O-2 extraction that was not coupled to an equivalent increase in elimination of CO2 from the lungs. None of the changes in the variables studied could alone explain the initiation/termination of episodic ventilation in the tegus, suggesting that breathing episodes are shaped by a complex interaction between many variables. The estimated oxidative cost of breathing in dormant tegus at 17 degrees C was equivalent to 52.3% of the total metabolic rate, indicating that breathing is the most costly activity during dormancy.




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Journal of Experimental Biology. Cambridge: Company of Biologists Ltd, v. 202, n. 24, p. 3677-3685, 1999.

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