Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 159, Issue 5, pp 641–648 | Cite as

Cardiorespiratory responses of the woodchuck and porcupine to CO2 and hypoxia

  • Dona F. Boggs
  • Geoffrey F. Birchard


The burrow-dwelling woodchuck (Marmota monax) (mean body wt.=4.45±1 kg) was compared to a similar-sized (5.87±1.5 kg) but arboreal rodent, the porcupine (Erithrizon dorsatum), in terms of its ventilatory and heart rate responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia, and its blood characteristics.VT,f,TI andTE were measured by whole-body plethysmography in four awake individuals of each species. The woodchuck has a longerTE/TTOT (0.76±0.03) than the porcupine (0.61±0.03). The woodchuck had a higher threshold and significantly smaller slope to its CO2 ventilatory response compared to the porcupine, but showed no difference in its hypoxic ventilatory response. The woodchuck P50 of 27.8 was hardly different from the porcupine value of 30.7, but the Bohr factor, −0.72, was greater than the porcupine's, −0.413. The woodchuck breathing air has PaCO2=48 (±2) torr, PaO2=72 (±6), pHa=7.357 (±0.01); the porcupine blood gases are PaCO2=34.6 (±2.8), PaO2=94.9 (±5), pHa=7.419 (±0.03), suggesting a difference in PaCO2/pH set points. The woodchuck exhibited no reduction in heart rate with hypoxia, nor did it have the low normoxic heart rate observed in other burrowing mammals.

Key words

Cardiorespiratory responses Woodchuck Porcupine CO2 Hypoxia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dona F. Boggs
    • 1
  • Geoffrey F. Birchard
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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