Changes in body temperature in king penguins at sea: the result of fine adjustments in peripheral heat loss?
ABSTRACT To investigate thermoregulatory adjustments at sea, body temperatures (the pectoral muscle and the brood patch) and diving behavior were monitored during a foraging trip of several days at sea in six breeding king penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus. During inactive phases at sea (water temperature: 4-7 degrees C), all tissues measured were maintained at normothermic temperatures. The brood patch temperature was maintained at the same values as those measured when brooding on shore (38 degrees C). This high temperature difference causes a significant loss of heat. We hypothesize that high-energy expenditure associated with elevated peripheral temperature when resting at sea is the thermoregulatory cost that a postabsorptive penguin has to face for the restoration of its subcutaneous body fat. During diving, mean pectoral temperature was 37.6 +/- 1.6 degrees C. While being almost normothermic on average, the temperature of the pectoral muscle was still significantly lower than during inactivity in five out of the six birds and underwent temperature drops of up to 5.5 degrees C. Mean brood patch temperature was 29.6 +/- 2.5 degrees C during diving, and temperature decreases of up to 21.6 degrees C were recorded. Interestingly, we observed episodes of brood patch warming during the descent to depth, suggesting that, in some cases, king penguins may perform active thermolysis using the brood patch. It is hypothesized that functional pectoral temperature may be regulated through peripheral adjustments in blood perfusion. These two paradoxical features, i.e., lower temperature of deep tissues during activity and normothermic peripheral tissues while inactive, may highlight the key to the energetics of this diving endotherm while foraging at sea.
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ABSTRACT: In endotherms, regulation of the degree of mitochondrial coupling affects cell metabolic efficiency. Thus it may be a key contributor to minimizing metabolic rate during long periods of fasting. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether variation in mitochondrial avian uncoupling proteins (avUCP), as putative regulators of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, may contribute to the ability of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) to withstand fasting for several weeks. After 20 days of fasting, king penguins showed a reduced rate of whole animal oxygen consumption (Vo2; -33%) at rest, together with a reduced abundance of avUCP and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1alpha (PGC1-alpha) mRNA in pectoralis muscle (-54%, -36%, respectively). These parameters were restored after the birds had been refed for 3 days. Furthermore, in recently fed, but not in fasted penguins, isolated muscle mitochondria showed a guanosine diphosphate-inhibited, fatty acid plus superoxide-activated respiration, indicating the presence of a functional UCP. It was calculated that variation in mitochondrial UCP-dependent respiration in vitro may contribute to nearly 20% of the difference in resting Vo2 between fed or refed penguins and fasted penguins measured in vivo. These results suggest that the lowering of avUCP activity during periods of long-term energetic restriction may contribute to the reduction in metabolic rate and hence the ability of king penguins to face prolonged periods of fasting.AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 08/2008; 295(1):R92-R100. · 3.28 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Flightlessness in previously volant birds is taxonomically widespread and thought to occur when the costs of having a functional flight apparatus outweigh the benefits. Loss of the ability to fly relaxes body mass constraints which can be particularly advantageous in divers, because underwater performance correlates with mass. The Galaagos Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi is flightless and the largest of its 27-member genus. Here, the loss of flight, and consequent reduced foraging range, could be compensated by enhanced dive performance. Over three years, 46 Galaagos Cormorants were successfully equipped with time–depth–temperature recorders, and 30 birds with GPS recorders during the breeding season. Birds foraged at a mean of 690 m from the nest and just 230 m from the nearest coast, confirming an extremely limited foraging range during the breeding season and corresponding increased potential for intraspecific competition. Although the maximum recorded dive depth of 73 m tallied with the species body mass, .90% of dives were conducted in water ,15 m deep. The heavier males foraged in different areas and dived longer and deeper than females, which exposed males to colder water. Consideration of how plumage insulation decreases with depth indicates that diving males should lose 30% more heat than females, although this may be partially compensated by their lower surface area : volume ratio. A simple model highlights how energy expenditure from swimming underwater due to buoyancy and energy lost as heat have opposing trends with increasing depth, leading to the prediction of an optimum foraging depth defined by the volume of plumage air and water temperature. This has ramifications for all diving seabirds. It is proposed that the reduction in wing size, together with energy-expensive flight musculature, allows the Galaagos Cormorant to be more efficient at shallow depths than other seabirds, but only in warm equatorial waters. The high prey density and predictability of benthic prey in defined areas of the Galaagos can be particularly well exploited by this flightless species, with its limited foraging range, but the Galaagos Cormorant is unlikely to be able to accommodate much change in environmental conditions.
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ABSTRACT: In order to further define O(2) store utilization during dives and understand the physiological basis of the aerobic dive limit (ADL, dive duration associated with the onset of post-dive blood lactate accumulation), emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) were equipped with either a blood partial pressure of oxygen (P(O(2))) recorder or a blood sampler while they were diving at an isolated dive hole in the sea ice of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Arterial P(O(2)) profiles (57 dives) revealed that (a) pre-dive P(O(2)) was greater than that at rest, (b) P(O(2)) transiently increased during descent and (c) post-dive P(O(2)) reached that at rest in 1.92+/-1.89 min (N=53). Venous P(O(2)) profiles (130 dives) revealed that (a) pre-dive venous P(O(2)) was greater than that at rest prior to 61% of dives, (b) in 90% of dives venous P(O(2)) transiently increased with a mean maximum P(O(2)) of 53+/-18 mmHg and a mean increase in P(O(2)) of 11+/-12 mmHg, (c) in 78% of dives, this peak venous P(O(2)) occurred within the first 3 min, and (d) post-dive venous P(O(2)) reached that at rest within 2.23+/-2.64 min (N=84). Arterial and venous P(O(2)) values in blood samples collected 1-3 min into dives were greater than or near to the respective values at rest. Blood lactate concentration was less than 2 mmol l(-1) as far as 10.5 min into dives, well beyond the known ADL of 5.6 min. Mean arterial and venous P(N(2)) of samples collected at 20-37 m depth were 2.5 times those at the surface, both being 2.1+/-0.7 atmospheres absolute (ATA; N=3 each), and were not significantly different. These findings are consistent with the maintenance of gas exchange during dives (elevated arterial and venous P(O(2)) and P(N(2)) during dives), muscle ischemia during dives (elevated venous P(O(2)), lack of lactate washout into blood during dives), and arterio-venous shunting of blood both during the surface period (venous P(O(2)) greater than that at rest) and during dives (arterialized venous P(O(2)) values during descent, equivalent arterial and venous P(N(2)) values during dives). These three physiological processes contribute to the transfer of the large respiratory O(2) store to the blood during the dive, isolation of muscle metabolism from the circulation during the dive, a decreased rate of blood O(2) depletion during dives, and optimized loading of O(2) stores both before and after dives. The lack of blood O(2) depletion and blood lactate elevation during dives beyond the ADL suggests that active locomotory muscle is the site of tissue lactate accumulation that results in post-dive blood lactate elevation in dives beyond the ADL.Journal of Experimental Biology 02/2009; 212(Pt 2):217-24. · 3.24 Impact Factor