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Pregnancy limits lung function during exercise and depresses metabolic rate in the skink Tiliqua nigrolutea


Munns, SL and Edwards, A and Nicol, SC and Frappell, PB, Pregnancy limits lung function during exercise and depresses metabolic rate in the skink Tiliqua nigrolutea, Journal of Experimental Biology, 218, (6) pp. 931-939. ISSN 0022-0949 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 The Company of Biologists

DOI: doi:10.1242/jeb.111450


High gestational loads have been associated with a range of ecological costs, such as decreased locomotor ability; however, the physiological mechanisms that underpin these changes are poorly understood. In this study, breathing patterns, metabolic rates, lung volume and lung diffusing capacity were measured at rest and during exercise in the pregnant skink Tiliqua nigrolutea. Breathing patterns were largely unaffected by gestation; however, decreases in metabolic rate (rate of oxygen consumption) in the late stages of pregnancy induced a relative hyperventilation. The reductions in metabolic rate during late pregnancy prevent the calculation of the maintenance cost of pregnancy based on post-partum and neonatal metabolic rates. Despite the high relative litter mass of 38.95.3%, lung diffusing capacity was maintained during all stages of pregnancy, suggesting that alterations in diffusion at the alveolar capillary membrane were not responsible for the relative hyperventilation. Lung volume was increased during pregnancy compared with non-pregnant females, but lung volume was significantly lower during pregnancy compared with post-partum lung volume. Pregnant females were unable to produce the same metabolic and ventilatory changes induced by exercise in non-pregnant females. This lack of ability to respond to increased respiratory drive during exercise may underpin the locomotor impairment measured during gestation in previous studies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ventilation, breathing pattern, oxygen consumption, gestation, lizard, reptile, lung, pulmonary gas exchange, lung diffusion capacity, lung volume, cost of pregnancy, exercise
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal physiology - systems
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Edwards, A (Dr Ashley Edwards)
UTAS Author:Nicol, SC (Associate Professor Stewart Nicol)
UTAS Author:Frappell, PB (Professor Peter Frappell)
ID Code:99312
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2015-03-19
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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