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Developmental plasticity in aerobic performance in deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus).

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Department of Biology, University of California at Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


While several studies have examined the abiotic effects of altitude (low ambient temperatures and hypoxia) on the aerobic performance of small mammals, few have explored the effects of development and maturation at different altitudes on aerobic performance as adults. We examined the basal metabolism and aerobic performance of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) under four different developmental and testing regimes: (1) reared (gestation through weaning) and tested at high altitude; (2) reared and tested at low altitude; (3) reared at low altitude and tested at high altitude after acclimation; and (4) reared at low altitude and tested in hypoxia without acclimation. We found that mice that developed and were tested at low altitudes had a higher aerobic capacity (both aerobic performance and basal metabolic rate) than those that developed, or were acclimated as adults, at high altitudes. In addition, we found that mice that developed at high altitude did not have a higher aerobic capacity than those that developed at low altitude and were acclimated to high altitude as adults. Both groups tested at high altitudes had higher hematocrits (% red blood cells) and hemoglobin than mice tested at low altitudes. Surprisingly, mice acclimated to low altitudes and given an instantaneous exposure to hypoxia did not suffer a depression in aerobic performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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