Scaling of subunit structures in book lungs of spiders (Araneae)

J Morphol. 1980 Aug;165(2):167-174. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1051650205.


The relationships between dimensions of book lung subunits were measured and analyzed as a function of body size in diverse spiders over a body mass range of 3.4 to 3,190 mg. Book lungs are the characteristic respiratory gas exchange organs in these arachnids. Actual gas exchange occurs across numerous air-filled cuticular plates, which invaginate hemolymph sinuses within the abdomens of these animals. Characteristic linear dimensions of these air-filled compartments reflecting diffusion paths scaled to the 0.2 power of body mass and showed only a fourfold increase over the size range in the sample. This deviation from isometric scaling in the direction obtained and its numerical similarity to scaling of alveolar dimensions to body size in vertebrates was interpreted as an adaptation to reduce diffusion distances between these compartments and vascular fluids. Conversely, lengths and widths of these plates scaled to the one-third power of body mass, isometric scaling, and increased between six-and eightfold over the size range. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that respiratory gas distribution within spider lungs is achieved by convective mixing as has been recently hypothesized.