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Coming up for air: thermal dependence of dive behaviours and metabolism in sea snakes


Udyawer, V and Simpfendorfer, CA and Heupel, MR and Clark, TD, Coming up for air: thermal dependence of dive behaviours and metabolism in sea snakes, Journal of Experimental Biology, 219 pp. 3447-3454. ISSN 0022-0949 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

2016 the authors

DOI: doi:10.1242/jeb.146571


Cutaneous gas exchange allows some air-breathing diving ectotherms to supplement their pulmonary oxygen uptake, which may allow prolongation of dives and an increased capacity to withstand anthropogenic and natural threatening processes that increase submergence times. However, little is known of the interplay between metabolism, bimodal oxygen uptake and activity levels across thermal environments in diving ectotherms. Here, we show in two species of sea snake (spine-bellied sea snake; Hydrophis curtus and elegant sea snake; H. elegans) that increasing temperature elevates surfacing rates, increases total oxygen consumption, and decreases dive durations. The majority of dives observed in both species remained within estimated maximal aerobic limits. While cutaneous gas exchange accounted for a substantial proportion of total oxygen consumption (up to 23%), unexpectedly it was independent of water temperature and activity levels, suggesting a diffusion-limited mechanism. Our findings demonstrate that rising water temperature and a limited capability to up-regulate cutaneous oxygen uptake may compromise the proficiency with which sea snakes perform prolonged dives. This may hinder their capacity to withstand ongoing anthropogenic activities like trawl fishing, and increase their susceptibility to surface predation as their natural environments continue to warm.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:sea snakes, fisheries, anthropogenic, physiology, accelerometer, aerobic limits, bimodal gas exchange, Hydrophis (Lapemis) curtus, Hydrophis elegans, incidental trawl bycatch
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal physiological ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Coastal or estuarine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Clark, TD (Dr Timothy Clark)
ID Code:112353
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2016-11-04
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:148 View Download Statistics

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