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dc.contributor.authorCooper, Christine
dc.contributor.authorWithers, P.
dc.contributor.authorCruz-Neto. A.
dc.identifier.citationCooper C.E., Withers, P.C. and Cruz-Neto A.P. (2009) Metabolic, ventilatory and hygric physiology of the gracile mouse opossum (Gracilinanus agilis). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 82 (2): pp. 153-162.

We present the first complete study of basic laboratory‐measured physiological variables (metabolism, thermoregulation, evaporative water loss, and ventilation) for a South American marsupial, the gracile mouse opossum (Gracilinanus agilis). Body temperature (Tb) was thermolabile below thermoneutrality (Tb = 33.5°C), but a substantial gradient between Tb and ambient temperature (Ta) was sustained even at Ta = 12°C (Tb = 30.6°C). Basal metabolic rate of 1.00 mL O2 g−1 h−1 at Ta = 30°C conformed to the general allometric relationship for marsupials, as did wet thermal conductance (5.7 mL O2 g−1 h−1 °C−1). Respiratory rate, tidal volume, and minute volume at thermoneutrality matched metabolic demand such that O2 extraction was 12.4%, and ventilation increased in proportion to metabolic rate at low Ta. Ventilatory accommodation of increased metabolic rate at low Ta was by an increase in respiratory rate rather than by tidal volume or O2 extraction. Evaporative water loss at the lower limit of thermoneutrality conformed to that of other marsupials. Relative water economy was negative at thermoneutrality but positive below Ta = 12°C. Interestingly, the Neotropical gracile mouse opossums have a more positive water economy at low Ta than an Australian arid‐zone marsupial, perhaps reflecting seasonal variation in water availability for the mouse opossum. Torpor occurred at low Ta, with spontaneous arousal when Tb > 20°C. Torpor resulted in absolute energy and water savings but lower relative water economy. We found no evidence that gracile mouse opossums differ physiologically from other marsupials, despite their Neotropical distribution, sympatry with placental mammals, and long period of separation from Australian marsupials.

dc.titleMetabolic, Ventilatory, and Hygric Physiology of the Gracile Mouse Opossum (Gracilinanus agilis)
dc.typeJournal Article

A copy of this item may be available from Dr. Christine Cooper




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curtin.accessStatusOpen access
curtin.facultySchool of Agriculture and Environment
curtin.facultyFaculty of Science and Engineering
curtin.facultyDepartment of Environmental Biology

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