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Lung collapse among aquatic reptiles and amphibians during long-term diving.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA.


Numerous aquatic reptiles and amphibians that typically breathe both air and water can remain fully aerobic in normoxic (aerated) water by taking up oxygen from the water via extrapulmonary avenues. Nevertheless, if air access is available, these animals do breathe air, however infrequently. We suggest that such air breathing does not serve an immediate gas exchange function under these conditions, nor is it necessarily related to buoyancy requirements, but serves to keep lungs inflated that would otherwise collapse during prolonged submergence. We also suggest that lung deflation is routine in hibernating aquatic reptiles and amphibians in the northern portions of their ranges, where ice cover prevents surfacing for extended periods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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