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

Udyawer, Vinay, Simpfendorfer, Colin A., Heupel, Michelle R., and Clark, Timothy D. (2016) Coming up for air: thermal-dependence of dive behaviours and metabolism in sea snakes. Journal of Experimental Biology, 219. pp. 3447-3454.

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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, Hydrophis elegans) that increasing temperature elevates surfacing rate, increases total oxygen consumption and decreases dive duration. 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 ID: 47909
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-9145
Keywords: accelerometer, aerobic limits, bimodal gas exchange, Hydrophis (Lapemis)curtus, Hydrophis elegans, incidental trawl bycatch
Funders: National Environmental Research Program (Tropical Ecosystems Hub), James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 22:59
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 60%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310910 Animal physiology - systems @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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