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J Exp Biol. 2005 Jul;208(Pt 13):2581-93.

Do seasonal changes in metabolic rate facilitate changes in diving behaviour?

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  • 1School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. j.a.green@bham.ac.uk


Macaroni penguins were implanted with data loggers to record heart rate (fH), abdominal temperature (Tab) and diving depth during their pre-moult trip (summer) and winter migration. The penguins showed substantial differences in diving behaviour between the seasons. During winter, mean and maximum dive duration and dive depth were significantly greater than during summer, but the proportion of dives within the calculated aerobic dive limit (cADL) did not change. Rates of oxygen consumption were estimated from fH. As winter progressed, the rate of oxygen consumption during dive cycles (sVO2DC)) declined significantly and mirrored the pattern of increase in maximum duration and depth. The decline in sVO2DC) was matched by a decline in minimum rate of oxygen consumption (sVO2min)). When sVO2min) was subtracted from sVO2DC), the net cost of diving was unchanged between summer and winter. We suggest that the increased diving capacity demonstrated during the winter was facilitated by the decrease in sVO2min). Abdominal temperature declined during winter but this was not sufficient to explain the decline in sVO2min). A simple model of the interactions between sVO2min), thermal conductance and water temperature shows how a change in the distribution of fat stores and therefore a change in insulation and/or a difference in foraging location during winter could account for the observed reduction in sVO2min) and hence sVO2DC).

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