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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2004 Mar-Apr;77(2):209-22.

Long-term cold acclimation leads to high Q10 effects on oxygen consumption of loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, Scotland, United Kingdom.


We monitored oxygen consumption (VO2), body temperatures (Tb), submersion intervals, and circadian rhythms of VO2 in nine loggerhead turtles during a 6-mo period. The turtles originated from the Tyrhennian Sea, South Italy (40 degrees 51'N, 14 degrees 17'E) and were kept in indoor tanks at constant photoperiod while being subject to the seasonal decline in water temperature (Tw=27.1 degrees to 15.3 degrees C). From summer to winter, all turtles underwent profound reductions in VO2 (Q10=5.4). Simultaneously, their activity was greatly reduced and submergence intervals increased. Over 24-h periods, however, the turtles showed no circadian rhythm in activity or VO2. However, there was a significant positive correlation between the proportion of a day spent actively swimming and VO2. Tb's were not significantly different from Tw and followed the same seasonal decline. A second experiment was conducted to establish the effect of short-term exposure to various temperatures on VO2. Tb equilibrated with the experimental Tw within 3 h. The metabolic responses were again positively correlated with changes in Tw, but this time the corresponding Q10 was only 1.3. On the basis of the range of body masses of the turtles used in this study (2-60 kg), the intraspecific scaling exponent for VO2 was 0.353.

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