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Resting metabolic rates in boid snakes: allometric relationships and temperature effects


Resting metabolic rates (RMR) of 34 species from 18 genera of boas and pythons (Serpentes: Boidae), with body masses ranging from 2 to 67,800 g, were determined as oxygen consumption (\(\dot V_{O_2 }\)) and carbon dioxide production (\(\dot V_{CO_2 }\)) at three ambient temperatures (T a).

The temperature coefficient of metabolism (Q10) averaged 2.61 betweenT a of 20–30°C and 2.65 between 30 and 34°C. The respiratory exchange ratio RE (=\(\dot V_{CO_2 }\)/\(\dot V_{O_2 }\)) increased slightly with increasingT a (0.795 at 20°C, 0.819 at 30°C, and 0.834 at 34°C). Interspecific differences in Q10 and RE were slight or insignificant.

A multiple regression relating metabolism (\(\dot V_{O_2 }\)) to mass andT a explained 97% of the variance in the pooled interspecific data. The mass exponent was 0.806, which is approximately the same as reported for squamates and for all reptilian taxa combined. The mean within-species slope (0.732) was significantly less than the slope for pooled data, but did not differ significantly from 0.75. In 40 of 42 cases (14 species at 3T a), within-species slopes did not differ from each other. Values of the adjusted mean Y, from covariance analysis, were significantly and positively correlated with mass, indicating that the mass coefficient increases with increasing mass.

Considerable variation in metabolic rate is apparent both within and between ecological and taxonomic categories.

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Original metabolic data are available from the National Auxiliary Publications Services, c/o Microfiche Publication, P.O. Box 3153 Grand Central Station, New York, New York 10017, USA

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Chappell, M.A., Ellis, T.M. Resting metabolic rates in boid snakes: allometric relationships and temperature effects. J Comp Physiol B 157, 227–235 (1987).

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  • Dioxide
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ambient Temperature
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Metabolic Rate