OPEN eLife | 4 Sep 2019
JU Meir, JM York, BA Chua, W Jardine, LA Hawkes and WK Milsom
The bar-headed goose is famed for migratory flight at extreme altitude. To better understand the physiology underlying this remarkable behavior, we imprinted and trained geese, collecting the first cardiorespiratory measurements of bar-headed geese flying at simulated altitude in a wind tunnel. Metabolic rate during flight increased 16-fold from rest, supported by an increase in the estimated amount of O2 transported per heartbeat and a modest increase in heart rate. The geese appear to have ample cardiac reserves, as heart rate during hypoxic flights was not higher than in normoxic flights. We conclude that flight in hypoxia is largely achieved via the reduction in metabolic rate compared to normoxia. Arterial [Formula: see text] was maintained throughout flights. Mixed venous PO2 decreased during the initial portion of flights in hypoxia, indicative of increased tissue O2 extraction. We also discovered that mixed venous temperature decreased during flight, which may significantly increase oxygen loading to hemoglobin.
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