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Ventilatory, cardiovascular and metabolic responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia in the armadillo

Respiration Physiology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0034-5687(98)00046-2
  • Control Of Breathing
  • Cardiorespiratory Response To Hypoxia
  • Hypercapnia
  • Hypercapnia
  • Hypoxia
  • Mammals
  • Armadillo (Dasypus Novemcincus)
  • Metabolism
  • Hypoxia
  • Hypercapnia
  • Pattern Of Breathing
  • Armadillo
  • Physics


Abstract Armadillos have a low resting metabolic rate and high hemoglobin affinity for their size, a rigid carapace and a semi-fossorial life style. These characteristics could contribute to unusual respiratory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia which were investigated in this study. Ventilatory and oxygen consumption responses of six adult unanesthetized armadillos to 15, 12, 10 and 8% O 2 and 1.5, 3, 5 and 7% CO 2 were measured by barometric plethysmography and flow-through respirometry. A significant increase in ventilation occurred in response to 10 and 8% O 2 but a decline in oxygen consumption only occurred at 8% inspired O 2. The convection requirement response has a threshold at a Pa O 2 of ≈28 Torr which corresponds to a Hb saturation of ∼70%. Ventilation increased in response to 3% and higher levels of CO 2, with no change in oxygen consumption. The magnitude of the ventilatory response to CO 2 was similar to other semi-fossorial mammals and less than that of nonburrowing species. However, the pattern of the response was unique in being largely a frequency response with little change in tidal volume, contrary to the tidal volume dominated response to hypercapnia typical of mammals. This feature, not shared by another Xenarthran, the sloth, who lacks a carapace, is likely attributable to the low respiratory system compliance and increased airway resistance resulting from the rigid carapace and small lungs of armadillos and emphasizes the importance of respiratory mechanics in determining breathing pattern.

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