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Can birds do it too? Evidence for convergence in evaporative water loss regulation for birds and mammals.

Authors
  • Eto, E C1
  • Withers, P C1, 2
  • Cooper, C E3, 2
  • 1 School of Biological Sciences M092, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 2 Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University, PO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6847, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 3 School of Biological Sciences M092, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia [email protected] , (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences
Publisher
The Royal Society
Publication Date
Nov 29, 2017
Volume
284
Issue
1867
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1478
PMID: 29142111
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Birds have many physiological characteristics that are convergent with mammals. In the light of recent evidence that mammals can maintain a constant insensible evaporative water loss (EWL) over a range of perturbing environmental conditions, we hypothesized that birds might also regulate insensible EWL, reflecting this convergence. We found that budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) maintain EWL constant over a range of relative humidities at three ambient temperatures. EWL, expressed as a function of water vapour pressure deficit, differed from a physical model where the water vapour pressure deficit between the animal and the ambient air is the driver of evaporation, indicating physiological control of EWL. Regulating EWL avoids thermoregulatory impacts of varied evaporative heat loss; changes in relative humidity had no effect on body temperature, metabolic rate or thermal conductance. Our findings that a small bird can regulate EWL are evidence that this is a common feature of convergently endothermic birds and mammals, and may therefore be a fundamental characteristic of endothermy. © 2017 The Author(s).

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