Muscle energy stores and stroke rates of emperor penguins: Implications for muscle metabolism and dive performance

Cassondra L. Williams, Katsufumi Sato, Kozue Shiomi, Paul J. Ponganis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In diving birds and mammals, bradycardia and peripheral vasoconstriction potentially isolate muscle from the circulation. During complete ischemia, ATP production is dependent on the size of the myoglobin oxygen (O2) store and the concentrations of phosphocreatine (PCr) and glycogen (Gly). Therefore, we measured PCr and Gly concentrations in the primary underwater locomotory muscle of emperor penguin and modeled the depletion of muscle O2 and those energy stores under conditions of complete ischemia and a previously determined muscle metabolic rate.We also analyzed stroke rate to assessmuscleworkload variation during dives and evaluate potential limitations on the model. Measured PCr and Gly concentrations, 20.8 and 54.6 mmol kg-1, respectively, were similar to published values for nondiving animals. The model demonstrated that PCr and Gly provide a large anaerobic energy store, even for dives longer than 20 min. Stroke rate varied throughout the dive profile, indicating muscle workload was not constant during dives as was assumed in the model. The stroke rate during the first 30 s of dives increased with increased dive depth. In extremely long dives, lower overall stroke rates were observed. Although O2 consumption and energy store depletion may vary during dives, the model demonstrated that PCr and Gly, even at concentrations typical of terrestrial birds and mammals, are a significant anaerobic energy store and can play an important role in the emperor penguin's ability to perform long dives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-133
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Volume85
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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