Thermoregulation in Antarctic fulmarine petrels

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Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology




We measured resting metabolic rates at air temperatures between ca. ?5 and 30?°C in snow petrels (Pagodroma nivea), cape petrels (Daption capense), Antarctic petrels (Thalassoica antarctica), and Antarctic fulmars (Fulmarus glacialoides). We measured seven age classes for each species: adults, and nestlings that were 3, 8, 15, 28, 35, and 42?days old. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) and thermal conductance (C) of adults averaged, respectively, 140% and 100% of values predicted allometrically for nonpasserine birds. Minimum metabolic rates of unfasted nestlings aged 15–42?days averaged, respectively, 97% and 98% of predicted adult BMR in Antarctic petrels and snow petrels, versus 119% and 126% of predicted in Antarctic fulmars and cape petrels. Nestlings of the southerly breeding snow petrel and Antarctic petrel were relatively well insulated compared with nestlings of other high-latitude seabirds. Adult lower critical temperature (Tlc) was inversely related to body mass and averaged 9?°C lower than predicted allometrically. As nestlings grew, their Tlc decreased with increasing body mass from ca. 14 to 22?°C (depending upon species) at 3?days of age, to ?4 to 8?°C when nestlings attained peak mass. Nestling Tlc subsequently increased as body mass decreased during pre-fledging weight recession. Nestling Tlc was close to mean air temperature from the end of brooding until fledging in the three surface nesting species.