birding-aus champion energy users

Subject: birding-aus champion energy users
From: "Philip Battley" <>
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 15:14:58 +0000
On the oxygen thing and following up recent lung-derived e-mails,

I have always been of the understanding that the highest SUSTAINED 
energy turnover in humans is achieved by Tour de France cyclists and 
Swedish woodcutters, but that these were only in the 4 times basal 
metabolic rate region (correct me if I am wrong, as I don't have 
refernces to back me up).  There is a lot of literature from both 
mammals and birds looking for the existence of and an explanation 
for a proposed metabolic ceiling of about 5-7 X BMR, but it seems to 
me that in the medium term (ie. not instantaneous & 'sprint' levels, 
and not over the long-term, such as whole breeding seasons) birds 
must surely take the cake. 

A shorebird flying for 5,500 km is presumably expending energy at 
anything from 10-15 X BMR (depending on your estimate of the energy 
costs of flight) continuously for about 4 days. That is at a rate 3-4 
times higher than what humans can sustain, for over a hundred hours 
without a break!

Getting oxygen is of course only one aspect of getting your energy 
going, and if anyone is interested in other aspects of fuel supply 
(such as composition of fuel and problems with mobilising it) you 
can't go past the recent issue of Journal of Avian Biology on Optimal 
Migration, especially this paper:

L. Jenni & S. Jenni-Eiermann. 1998. Fuel supply and metabolic 
constraints in migrating birds. J. Avian Biol. 29 (4) 521-528.

Keep up the good  pondering, Phil.

Phil Battley,
Australian School of Environmental Studies,
Griffith University,
Queensland 4111,
Ph: 0061-7-3875-7474
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