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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2007 Nov 29;362(1487):2079-93.

Thermal substitution and aerobic efficiency: measuring and predicting effects of heat balance on endotherm diving energetics.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA.


For diving endotherms, modelling costs of locomotion as a function of prey dispersion requires estimates of the costs of diving to different depths. One approach is to estimate the physical costs of locomotion (Pmech) with biomechanical models and to convert those estimates to chemical energy needs by an aerobic efficiency (eta=Pmech/Vo2) based on oxygen consumption (Vo2) in captive animals. Variations in eta with temperature depend partly on thermal substitution, whereby heat from the inefficiency of exercising muscles or the heat increment of feeding (HIF) can substitute for thermogenesis. However, measurements of substitution have ranged from lack of detection to nearly complete use of exercise heat or HIF. This inconsistency may reflect (i) problems in methods of calculating substitution, (ii) confounding mechanisms of thermoregulatory control, or (iii) varying conditions that affect heat balance and allow substitution to be expressed. At present, understanding of how heat generation is regulated, and how heat is transported among tissues during exercise, digestion, thermal challenge and breath holding, is inadequate for predicting substitution and aerobic efficiencies without direct measurements for conditions of interest. Confirming that work rates during exercise are generally conserved, and identifying temperatures at those work rates below which shivering begins, may allow better prediction of aerobic efficiencies for ecological models.

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