Breathing with big babies: ventilation and oxygen consumption during pregnancy in the lizard Tiliqua rugosa

Munns, Suzanne, and Daniels, Christoper (2007) Breathing with big babies: ventilation and oxygen consumption during pregnancy in the lizard Tiliqua rugosa. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 80 (1). pp. 35-45.

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We determined the effects of high gestational loads on ventilation and the rate of oxygen consumption (VO2) in the scincid lizard Tiliqua rugosa. Tiliqua rugosa is a large viviparous lizard that gives birth to one to four young after 6-7 mo gestation. Pregnant females gave birth to large young, weighing 89.5±5.9 g, which represents 21.6%±2.6% of maternal body mass. As the embryos developed, they occupied an increasingly large proportion of the body cavity, decreasing food consumption and compressing the gastrointestinal tract. Computerized axial tomography scans demonstrated that the lungs were compressed and/or regionally collapsed by the developing embryos, potentially compromising ventilation. Both minute ventilation (VE) and tidal volume decreased as gestation progressed, but no compensatory changes in breathing frequency or in the duration of the nonventilatory period were observed. The total rate of VO2, consisting of contributions from both maternal and fetal tissues, did not change during gestation, suggesting that maternal VO2 decreases as fetal VO2 increases. Pregnant females demonstrated a decreased ventilatory response to increased respiratory drive (triggered via inhalation of hypoxic hypercapnic gas), which may be associated with the increased energetic cost of ventilating a compressed lung or the desensitization of chemoreceptors during gestation. The decreased ability of the respiratory system to respond to increased respiratory drive may have important consequences for locomotor performance and predator avoidance in pregnant lizards.

Item ID: 2783
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1537-5293
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2009 02:51
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0606 Physiology > 060604 Comparative Physiology @ 90%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070799 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 10%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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