Energy Metabolism and Patterns of Ventilation in Euthermic and Torpid Hummingbirds

  • Theresa L. Bucher
  • Mark A. Chappell
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIAS, volume 173)


Thermoregulation and energy metabolism in hummingbirds, the smallest of all avian species, have long been of interest to comparative physiologists. Early studies reported extremely high rates of oxidative metabolism during both rest and activity. Many species also undergo profound hypothermia, or torpor, often accompanied by long periods of apnea (Pearson, 1950; Bartholomew et al., 1957). Subsequent studies have established that regulated hypothermia (maintenance of stable body temperature via adjustments in metabolic heat production) commonly occurs during torpor (Hainsworth and Wolf, 1970; Wolf and Hainsworth, 1972). The respiratory system of hummingbirds must not only be able to support high rates of oxygen flow during activity, but must also accommodate very large changes in oxygen demand during the transition between torpor and euthermia. Somewhat surprisingly, hummingbird respiration has received relatively little attention from avian physiologists. Moreover, in the few studies of hummingbird ventilation to date, the birds have been restrained within the metabolic chamber (Lasiewski, 1964, 1967; Withers, 1977). These procedures almost certainly alter normal ventilation patterns (Bucher, 1981).


Oxygen Consumption Oxygen Extraction Metabolic Intensity Metabolic Heat Production Metabolic Chamber 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theresa L. Bucher
    • 1
  • Mark A. Chappell
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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