Cardiac output and metabolism of diving birds

Subject: Cardiac output and metabolism of diving birds
From: Stephen Ambrose <>
Date: Wed, 01 Apr 1998 19:47:54 +1000
At 03:28 PM 4/1/98 +0800, Shane Raidal wrote:

>So in summary I also don't buy the reduced heart rate as an indicator of
>decreased metabolism.  You can explain it other ways. The cardiac output
>could still be the same or even increased if only the brain and muscles are
>receiving the bulk of the blood flow.  This is the key : heart rate does
>not = cardiac output. 

>Of course I could be totally wrong and don't mind being proved so.

Shane, I agree with this last point. However, it appears that diving birds
DO have a decreased cardiac output when their heart rate decreases during a
dive. I can't find any data for penguins (maybe I haven't been looking hard
enough), but Johansen & Aakhus (1963) found that blood stroke volume in
ducks remained the same during a dive, while cardiac output decreased
(Johansen 1964).

Prosser (1974) states that the Pekin Duck reduces its metabolic rate by 90%
and its heart rate to between 5-8% of its pre-dive rate during a prolonged
dive. Similar results have been found in seals (Scholander 1940), Domestic
Ducks (Scholander 1940, Andersen 1959, Pickwell 1968) and the American
Alligator (Andersen 1961).
>Can anyone remember how we started this discussion ???????

Phew, it HAS been a bit of a marathon, hasn't it? Didn't Mauro have
something to do with it??????


Andersen, H.T. (1959). Depression of metabolism in the duck during diving.
Acta Physiol. Scand. 46: 234-9.

Andersen, H.T. (1961). Physiological adjustments to prolonged diving in the
American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis. Acta Physiol. Scand. 53:

Johansen, K. (1964). Regional distribution of circulating blood during
submersion asphyxia in the duck. Acta Physiol. Scand. 62: 1-9.

Johansen, K. & Aakhus, T. (1963). Central cardiovascular responses to
submersion asphyxia in the duck. Amer. J. Physiol. 205: 1167-71.

Pickwell, G.V. (1968). Energy metabolism in ducks during submersion
asphyxia: assessment by a direct method. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 27: 455-85.

Prosser, C.L. (1975). Comparative Animal Physiology (W.B. Saunders Co.,

Scholander, P.F. (1940). Experimental investigations on the respiratory
function in diving mammals and birds. Hvalradets Skrifter Norske
Videnskaps-Akad, Oslo. 22: 1-131.

Best wishes,

Dr Stephen Ambrose
Research Manager
Birds Australia (Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union)
Australian Bird Research Centre
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East,
VIC   3123.
Tel:    +61 3 9882 2622
Fax:    +61 3 9882 2677
Email:  S.Ambrose <>  (at work)
             <>   (at home)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU