[MARMAM] NEW PUBLICATION: Ontogeny of Oxygen Storage Capacity and Diving Ability in the Southern Sea Otter

Nicole Thometz nthometz at ucsc.edu
Tue Apr 21 12:26:05 PDT 2015


Dear MARMAM community, We are pleased to announce the recent publication of
our study, "Ontogeny of Oxygen Storage Capacity and Diving Ability in the
Southern Sea Otter (*Enhydra lutris nereis*): Costs and Benefits of Large
Lungs", which is currently in the May/June issue of Physiological and
Biochemical Zoology. Ontogeny of Oxygen Storage Capacity and Diving Ability
in the Southern Sea Otter (*Enhydra lutris nereis*): Costs and Benefits of
Large Lungs
*Authors*: Thometz, N.M., Murray, M.J., & Williams, T.M.

*Abstract*: Small body size, large lungs, and dense pelage contribute to
the unique challenges faced by diving sea otters (*Enhydra lutris*) when
compared to other marine mammals. Here we determine the consequences of
large lungs on the development of diving ability in southern sea
otters (*Enhydra
lutris nereis*) by examining the ontogeny of blood, muscle, and lung oxygen
stores and calculating aerobic dive limits (cADL) for immature and mature
age classes. Total oxygen storage capacity matures rapidly in sea otters,
reaching adult levels by 2 mo postpartum. But this result is driven by
exceptional lung capacity at birth, followed by a decrease in mass-specific
lung volume with age. Blood and muscle oxygen stores remain well below
adult values before weaning, with large pups exhibiting 74% and 54% of
adult values, respectively. Slow muscle development limits the capacity of
immature sea otters to dive against high positive buoyancy due to
comparatively large lungs. Immature sea otters diving with total lung
capacity (TLC) experience up to twice the mass-specific positive buoyancy
as adults diving with TLC but can reduce these forces to comparable adult
levels by using a smaller diving lung volume (DLV). The cADL of a juvenile
with DLV is 3.62 min, while the cADL of an adult with TLC is 4.82 min. We
find that the magnitude of positive buoyancy experienced by sea otters
changes markedly with age and strongly influences the ontogeny of diving
ability in this species.

This paper was first published online 3/18/2015
Article DOI: 10.1086/681019
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/681019

Best,
    Nicole M. Thometz, PhD
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Email: nthometz at ucsc.edu
    Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department
    University of California Santa Cruz
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