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Physiol Biochem Zool. 1999 Sep-Oct;72(5):555-65.

Discontinuous gas-exchange cycles in Scarabaeus dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae): mass-scaling and temperature dependence.

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Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002 South Africa.


Although discontinuous gas exchange cycles (DGC) are known from many insects, the effects of body size and temperature on DGC have not been widely examined. Here, these effects are investigated in five Scarabaeus dung beetle species from mesic and xeric habitats. The investigation tests two hypotheses: that previous estimates of the scaling exponents for the DGC and its characteristics are more broadly applicable to insects, and that, in response to temperature, both DGC frequency and the quantity of CO2 emitted during the open (O) phase (O-phase emission volume) are modulated. Like previous workers, we find that V&d2;co2 scaled as mass0.968 and that O-phase emission volume scaled as mass0.833. However, temperature-associated increases in .Vco2 (Q10's of 2.19-2.65) were modulated mostly by increases in DGC frequency since O-phase volumes remained constant across temperature. Flutter (F)-phase and O-phase durations were closely coupled to DGC duration, although the relationship between closed (C)-phase duration and DGC duration was less pronounced. We show that ventilation phase coefficients, previously considered a measure of the proportional duration of each phase of the DGC, calculated from the slopes of these relationships are a measure of change in phase duration with change in DGC duration and not a measure of the way in which total DGC duration is apportioned among phases. We suggest that proportions be used to estimate the contribution of each of the phases to the total duration of the DGC.

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