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Zoology (Jena). 2001;104(2):143-52.

Buccal oscillation and lung ventilation in a semi-aquatic turtle, Platysternon megacephalum.

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Program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003-9297, USA.


Movements of the hyobranchial apparatus in reptiles and amphibians contribute to many behaviors including feeding, lung ventilation, buccopharyngeal respiration, thermoregulation, olfaction, defense and display. In a semi-aquatic turtle, Platysternon megacephalum, x-ray video and airflow measurements from blowhole pneumotachography show no evidence that above water hyobranchial movements contribute to lung inflation, as in the buccal or gular pump of amphibians and some lizards. Instead, hyobranchial movements produce symmetrical oscillations of air into and out of the buccal cavity. The mean tidal volume of these buccal oscillations is 7.8 times smaller than the mean tidal volume of lung ventilation (combined mean for four individuals). Airflow associated with buccal oscillation occurs in the sequence of inhalation followed by exhalation, distinguishing it from lung ventilation which occurs as exhalation followed by inhalation. No fixed temporal relationship between buccal oscillation and lung ventilation was observed. Periods of ventilation often occur without buccal oscillation and buccal oscillation sometimes occurs without lung ventilation. When the two behaviors occur together, the onset of lung ventilation often interrupts buccal oscillation. The initiation of lung ventilation was found to occur in all phases of the buccal oscillation cycle, suggesting that the neural control mechanisms of the two behaviors are not coupled. The pattern of occurrence of both buccal oscillation and lung ventilation was found to vary over time with no obvious effect of activity levels.


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