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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Apr;288(4):R992-7. Epub 2004 Dec 2.

Factorial scopes of cardio-metabolic variables remain constant with changes in body temperature in the varanid lizard, Varanus rosenbergi.

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Adaptational and Evolutionary Respiratory Physiology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria 3086, Australia.


The majority of information concerning the cardio-metabolic performance of varanids during exercise is limited to a few species at their preferred body temperature (T(b)) even though, being ectotherms, varanids naturally experience rather large changes in T(b). Although it is well established that absolute aerobic scope declines with decreasing T(b), it is not known whether changes in cardiac output (V(b)) and/or tissue oxygen extraction, (Ca(O2) - Cv(O2)), are in proportion to the rate of oxygen consumption (Vo(2)). To test this, we studied six Rosenberg's goannas (Varanus rosenbergi) while at rest and while maximally exercising on a treadmill both at 25 and 36 degrees C. During maximum exercise both at 25 and 36 degrees C, mass-specific rate of oxygen consumption (Vo(2kg)) increased with an absolute scope of 8.5 ml min(-1) kg(-1) and 15.7 ml min(-1) kg(-1), respectively. Interestingly, the factorial aerobic scope was temperature-independent and remained at 7.0 which, at each T(b), was primarily the result of an increase in V(bkg), governed by approximate twofold increases both in heart rate (f(H)) and cardiac stroke volume (V(Skg)). Both at 25 degrees C and 36 degrees C, the increase in V(bkg) alone was not sufficient to provide all of the additional oxygen required to attain maximal Vo(2kg), as indicated by a decrease in the blood convection requirement V(bkg)/Vo(2kg); hence, there was a compensatory twofold increase in (Ca(O2) - Cv(O2)). Although associated with an increase in hemoglobin-oxygen affinity, a decrease in T(b) did not impair unloading of oxygen at the tissues and act to reduce (Ca(O2) - Cv(O2)); both Ca(O2)) and Cv(O2)) were maintained across T(b). The change in Vo(2kg) with T(b), therefore, is solely reliant on the thermal dependence of V(bkg). Maintaining a high factorial aerobic scope across a range of T(b) confers an advantage in that cooler animals can achieve higher absolute aerobic scopes and presumably improved aerobic performance than would otherwise be achievable.

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