Deer mouse aerobic performance across altitudes: effects of developmental history and temperature acclimation

Physiol Biochem Zool. Nov-Dec 2007;80(6):652-62. doi: 10.1086/521202. Epub 2007 Sep 6.


Aerobic physiology at high altitudes has been studied in many animals. Prior work on laboratory-bred deer mice (a species with a wide altitudinal range) showed depression of aerobic capacity at high altitude, even after acclimation. However, wild deer mice show no reduction in thermogenic performance at high altitude, and performance limits seem to be due to physiological and anatomical adjustments to environmental temperature and not to oxygen availability. We asked whether across-altitude performance differences exist in deer mice after accounting for temperature acclimation (approximately 5 degrees and 20 degrees -25 degrees C) and prenatal and neonatal development altitude (340 vs. 3,800 m). We measured maximal thermogenic oxygen consumption (VO2sum) in cold exposure and ran mice on a treadmill to elicit maximal exercise oxygen consumption (VO2max). We found a 10% reduction in VO2max at 3,800 m compared with that at 340 m; thus, the mice were able to compensate for most of the 37% reduction in oxygen availability at the higher altitude. Development altitude did not affect VO2max. There was no effect of test altitude or development altitude on VO2sum in warm-acclimated animals, but both test and development altitude strongly affected VO2sum in cold-acclimated mice, and compensation for hypoxia at 3,800 m was considerably less than that for exercise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology*
  • Aerobiosis
  • Altitude*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Demography
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Peromyscus / physiology*
  • Temperature*