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Control of breathing and respiratory gas exchange in high-altitude ducks native to the Andes


Ivy, CM and Lague, SL and York, JM and Chua, BA and Alza, L and Cheek, R and Dawson, NJ and Frappell, P and McCracken, KG and Milsom, WK and Scott, GR, Control of breathing and respiratory gas exchange in high-altitude ducks native to the Andes, Journal of Experimental Biology, 222, (7) Article jeb198622. ISSN 0022-0949 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

© 2019. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1242/jeb.198622


We examined the control of breathing and respiratory gas exchange in six species of high-altitude duck that independently colonized the high Andes. We compared ducks from high-altitude populations in Peru (Lake Titicaca at ∼3800 m above sea level; Chancay River at ∼3000–4100 m) with closely related populations or species from low altitude. Hypoxic ventilatory responses were measured shortly after capture at the native altitude. In general, ducks responded to acute hypoxia with robust increases in total ventilation and pulmonary O2 extraction. O2 consumption rates were maintained or increased slightly in acute hypoxia, despite ∼1–2°C reductions in body temperature in most species. Two high-altitude taxa – yellow-billed pintail and torrent duck – exhibited higher total ventilation than their low-altitude counterparts, and yellow-billed pintail exhibited greater increases in pulmonary O2 extraction in severe hypoxia. In contrast, three other high-altitude taxa – Andean ruddy duck, Andean cinnamon teal and speckled teal – had similar or slightly reduced total ventilation and pulmonary O2 extraction compared with low-altitude relatives. Arterial O2 saturation (SaO2) was elevated in yellow-billed pintails at moderate levels of hypoxia, but there were no differences in SaO2 in other high-altitude taxa compared with their close relatives. This finding suggests that improvements in SaO2 in hypoxia can require increases in both breathing and haemoglobin–O2 affinity, because the yellow-billed pintail was the only high-altitude duck with concurrent increases in both traits compared with its low-altitude relative. Overall, our results suggest that distinct physiological strategies for coping with hypoxia can exist across different high-altitude lineages, even among those inhabiting very similar high-altitude habitats.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:high-altitude adaptation, hypoxic ventilatory response, ventilatory acclimatization to hypoxia, haemoglobin, waterfowl
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Ecological physiology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Frappell, P (Professor Peter Frappell)
ID Code:139617
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:Directorate
Deposited On:2020-06-23
Last Modified:2020-08-18
Downloads:10 View Download Statistics

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