Aug 1, 1976

Respiratory adaptations in burrowing pocket gophers from sea level and high altitude

Journal of Applied Physiology
A J Lechner


To examine the adaptations to low O2 and high CO2 among fossorial and nonfossorial rodents, hematological parameters were determined for laboratory rats, the valley pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae) from 250 m, and the mountain pocket gopher (T. umbrinus melanotis) from 3150 m. Hematocrit, hemoglobin concentration, and O2 capacity were higher in pocket gophers than in rats. Blood PO2 at 50% saturation and pH 7.4 was 33 mmHg for both gophers and 39 mmHg for rats. Bohr factors for all three rodents were similar (-0.55 to -0.61) but buffer value, delta log PCO2/delta pH, was -2.54 for T. umbrinus, -1.97 for T. bottae, and -0.98 for Rattus. Concentrations of total acid-soluble phosphates were 50-75% higher in gophers than in rats, while bicarbonate values were within the normal mammalian range. All three rodents had similar myoglobin concentrations in cardiac muscle. Myoglobin concentrations were significantly higher in skeletal muscles (diaphragm, gastrocnemius) of T. umbrinus when compared to T. bottae, and significantly higher in both gophers when compared to rats. These differences may constitute important adaptations to the hypoxia and hypercapnia in burrows; certain of these factors in pocket gophers respond to the additional s...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Entire Diaphragm
Genus Melanotis
Thomomys umbrinus
Family Dipodidae
Thomomys monticola

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