Ventilation and gas exchange in the mute swan, Cygnus olor

Respiration Physiology
C Bech, K Johansen

Abstract

Ventilation and gas exchange have been continuously measured in the mute swan using pneumotachography and breath to breath analysis of the ventilated gas by mass spectrometry combined with blood gas analysis. The breathing frequency was much lower and the tidal volume much higher than values predicted from allometric relations. The breathing cycles typically showed long end-inspiratory breath holding periods. End-tidal PCO2 and PO2 were above and below respectively typical end-tidal gas tensions reported earlier in birds. A pronounced positive PCO2 difference between end-tidal gas and mixed venous blood was present averaging 9.8 mm Hg. The blood-gas values found in the mute swan fall within a range typical of birds. A very low air convection requirement (13.6 ml . ml-1) and high O2 extraction coefficient (33.0%) indicate a high gas exchange efficiency of the swan lung. The unusually large tidal volumes and the long breath holds succeeding each inspiration are likely contributing factors to the high exchange efficiency. Calculated low values for the blood convection requirement (12.8 ml . ml-1) match the low air convection requirements and result in a ventilation/perfusion ratio near unity (VI/Q=1.06).

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