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Biol Bull. 1994 Apr;186(2):213-220. doi: 10.2307/1542055.

Energetics of the Ventilatory Piston Pump of the Lugworm, a Deposit-feeding Polychaete Living in a Burrow.


The aim of this study was to tentatively estimate the energy cost of breathing in the lugworm, Arenicola marina (L.), a gallery-dwelling, piston-pump breather that moves water in a tail-to-head direction. Each tested lugworm was placed in a horizontal glass tube. The caudal end of the tube was connected to a well-aerated seawater reservoir at 20{deg}C, and the cephalic end attached to a drop meter through a tube resistance. At the exit of the cephalic chamber the O2 tension was recorded via an in situ O2 electrode, and the hydrostatic pressure of the exhaled water was also recorded. Water flow rate, total O2 uptake rate {Mdot}TOTO2, O2 extraction coefficient, and the mechanical power necessary to pump water through the resistive anterior exit of the apparatus ({Wdot}MEC), were computed. The basal metabolic rate of each animal ({Mdot}CONFO2) was separately estimated by the confinement method. {Mdot}CONFO2 subtracted from {Mdot}TOTO2 approximates {Mdot}CBO2, the O2 uptake rate necessary to activate the piston-pump breathing mechanism and to ensure the corresponding mechanical work rate, {Wdot}MEC. The results show that the energy cost of breathing, {Mdot}CBO2, of the piston-pump-breathing Arenicola is very high, with mean values approximating 47% of the {Mdot}TOTO2 value; that the mechanical power we measured, {Wdot}MEC, is very low; and that the mechanical-to-metabolic efficiency, the ratio {Wdot}MEC/{Mdot}CBO2, does not exceed 1%. These observations are compared to those obtained in other piston-pump breathers, such as Chaetopterus variopedatus and Urechis caupo, and in ciliary filter feeders including polychaetes, bivalves, and ascidians.


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