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Fluctuations in oxygen influence facultative endothermy in bumblebees


Dzialowski, EM and Tattersall, GJ and Nicol, SC and Frappell, P, Fluctuations in oxygen influence facultative endothermy in bumblebees, Journal of Experimental Biology, 217, (21) pp. 3834-3842. ISSN 0022-0949 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1242/jeb.107052


Bumblebees are facultative endotherms, having the ability to elevate thorax temperature above ambient temperature by elevating metabolism. Here, we investigated the influence of hypoxia on metabolic demands and thermoregulatory capabilities of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. We measured thorax temperature, rates of oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production, and abdominal pumping rates of bees randomly exposed to oxygen levels of 20, 15, 10 and 5 kPa at 26C. Under normoxia, bumblebees maintained an elevated mean thorax temperature of 35.5C. There was no significant change in thorax temperature at 15 kPa O2 (33.4C). Mean thorax temperature decreased significantly at 10 kPa O2 (31.6C) and 5 kPa O2 (27.3C). Bees were able to maintain an elevated metabolic rate at 15 and 10 kPa O2. In normoxia, endothermic bees exhibited periods of rapid abdominal pumping (327 min−1) interspaced by periods of no abdominal pumping. At 10 kPa O2, abdominal pumping rate decreased (255 min−1) but became more continuous. Upon exposure to 5 kPa, metabolic rate and abdominal pumping rate (152 min−1) decreased, although the animals continued abdominal pumping at the reduced rate throughout the exposure period. Bumblebees are able to meet the energetic demands of endothermy at 15 kPa O2, but become compromised at levels of 10 kPa O2 and below.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Invertebrate biology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Nicol, SC (Associate Professor Stewart Nicol)
UTAS Author:Frappell, P (Professor Peter Frappell)
ID Code:100273
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Research Division
Deposited On:2015-05-08
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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