Energetics of foraging and locomotion in the platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Bethge, P and Munks, SA and Nicol, SC, Energetics of foraging and locomotion in the platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus, Journal of Comparative Physiology B-Biochemical Systemic and Environmental Physiology, 171, (6) pp. 497-506. ISSN 0174-1578 (2001) [Refereed Article]
We measured the energy requirements of platypuses foraging, diving and resting in a swim tank using flow-through respirometry. Also, walking metabolic rates were obtained from platypuses walking on a conventional treadmill. Energy requirements while foraging were found to depend on water temperature, body weight and dive duration and averaged 8.48 W kg-1. Rates for subsurface swimming averaged 6.71 W kg-1. Minimal cost of transport for subsurface swimming platypuses was 1.85 J N-1m-1 at a speed of 0.4 m s-1. Aerobic dive limit of the platypus amounted to 59 s. Metabolic rate of platypuses resting on the water surface was minimal with 3.91 W kg-1 while minimal RMR on land was 2.08 W kg-1. The metabolic rate for walking was 8.80 W kg-1 and 10.56 W kg-1 at speeds of 0.2 m s-1 and 0.3 m s-1, respectively. A formula was derived, which allows prediction of power requirements of platypuses in the wild from measurements of body weight, dive duration and water temperature. Platypuses were found to expend energy at only half the rate of semiaquatic eutherians of comparable body sizes during both walking and diving. However, costs of transport at optimal speed were in line with findings for eutherians. These patterns suggest that underwater locomotion of semiaquatic mammals have converged on very similar efficiencies despite differences in phylogeny and locomotor mode.