Recovery from swimming-induced hypothermia in king penguins: effects of nutritional condition.
We investigated changes in the rate of oxygen consumption (V O2) and body temperature of wild king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) in different nutritional conditions during recovery after exposure to cold water. Over time, birds undertook an identical experiment three times, each characterized by different nutritional conditions: (1) having recently completed a foraging trip, (2) after fasting for many days, and (3) having been refed one meal after the fast. The experiments consisted of a 2-h session in a water channel followed by a period of recovery in a respirometer chamber on land. Refed birds recovered significantly more quickly than fed birds, in terms of both time to reach resting V O2 on land and time to reach recovery of lower abdominal temperature. Previous work found that when penguins are in cold water, abdominal temperatures decrease less in refed birds than in fed or fasted birds, suggesting that refed birds may be vasoconstricting the periphery while perfusing the gut region to access nutrients. This, alongside an increased resting [V O2], seems the most reasonable explanation for why refed birds recovered more quickly subsequent to cold-water exposure in this study; that is, vasoconstriction of the insulative periphery meant that they lost less heat generated by the body core.
Halsey, LG; Handrich, Y; Rey, B; Fahlman, A; Woakes, AJ; Butler, PJ
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