Measurement of maximum oxygen consumption in Guinea fowl Numida meleagris indicates that birds and mammals display a similar diversity of aerobic scopes during running

Physiol Biochem Zool. Sep-Oct 2003;76(5):695-703. doi: 10.1086/376430.


Judgement of exercise performance in birds has been hampered by a paucity of data on maximal aerobic capacity. We measured the maximal rate of oxygen consumption (Vo2,max) in running guinea fowl Numida meleagris, a bird that has been used in several previous studies of avian running. Mean Vo2,max during level treadmill running was 97.5+/-3.7 mL O(2) kg(-1) min(-1) (mean+/-SEM, N=5). Vo2,max was on average 6% higher when the birds ran uphill compared with the value during level running (paired t-test, P=0.041, N=5). The mean basal rate of oxygen consumption (Vo2,bmr) of the same individuals was 7.9+/-0.5 mL O(2) kg(-1) min(-1). Mean factorial aerobic scope based on individually measured values of Vo2,max and Vo2,bmr was 13.2+/-0.6 (mean+/-SEM, N=5). This value was considerably lower than the factorial aerobic scope previously measured during running in Rhea americana, a large flightless ratite. The difference in factorial scope between these two running birds likely reflects the effects of body size as well as size-independent differences in the ability to deliver and use oxygen. These data confirm a previous prediction that birds have a diversity of factorial aerobic scopes similar to that exhibited by mammals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*


  • Lactic Acid