[MARMAM] New publication on porpoise heart rate

Gitte McDonald gmcdonald at mlml.calstate.edu
Tue Nov 30 11:16:49 PST 2021

Dear MARMAM community,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of our new paper
examining heart rate in foraging harbor porpoises published in Proceedings
of the Royal Society B:

McDonald BI, Elmegaard SL, Johnson M, Wisniewska DM, Rojano-Doñate L,
Galatius A, Siebert U, Teilmann J, Madsen PT. 2021. High heart rates in
hunting harbour porpoises. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 288:
20211596. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.1596

Don't hesitate to get in touch with questions, comments and/or requests for
a pdf.

birgitte.mcdonald at sjsu.edu

All the best on behalf of the authors,

Gitte McDonald


The impressive breath-hold capabilities of marine mammals are facilitated
by both enhanced O2 stores and reductions in the rate of O2 consumption via
peripheral vasoconstriction and bradycardia, called the dive response. Many
studies have focused on the extreme role of the dive response in maximizing
dive duration in marine mammals, but few have addressed how these
adjustments may compromise the capability to hunt, digest and
thermoregulate during routine dives. Here, we use DTAGs, which record heart
rate together with foraging and movement behaviour, to investigate how
O2 management
is balanced between the need to dive and forage in five wild harbour
porpoises that hunt thousands of small prey daily during continuous shallow
diving. Dive heart rates were moderate (median minimum 47–69 bpm) and
relatively stable across dive types, dive duration (0.5–3.3 min) and
activity. A moderate dive response, allowing for some perfusion of
peripheral tissues, may be essential for fuelling the high field metabolic
rates required to maintain body temperature and support digestion during
diving in these small, continuously feeding cetaceans. Thus, despite having
the capacity to prolong dives via a strong dive response, for these
shallow-diving cetaceans, it appears to be more efficient to maintain
circulation while diving: extreme heart rate gymnastics are for deep dives
and emergencies, not everyday use.

Birgitte I. McDonald
Associate Professor
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
San Jose State University
8272 Moss Landing Rd.
Moss Landing, CA 95039
birgitte.mcdonald at sjsu.edu
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