Temperature and humidity dynamics of cutaneous and respiratory evaporation in pigeons, Columba livia

J Comp Physiol B. 1987;157(2):253-60. doi: 10.1007/BF00692370.


Using a two-compartment metabolism chamber, we measured oxygen consumption simultaneously with evaporative water loss (EWL) separately from the skin and respiratory tract of pigeons exposed to various air temperatures and humidities. Both respiratory (REWL) and cutaneous (CEWL) water loss increased markedly with increasing air temperature, and latent heat loss through both routes dissipated large fractions of internal heat production during mild heat stress. CEWL as a percentage of total EWL significantly exceeded REWL (60 +/- 1.5%) at thermoneutral air temperatures, and was also a substantial fraction of total EWL at lower and higher temperatures. Both REWL and CEWL were inverse functions (apparently linear) of ambient humidity at 20 and 30 degrees C. These observations verify suggestions by other investigators that CEWL in birds plays a greater role in water balance and in counteracting heat stress than was previously believed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature
  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Columbidae / physiology*
  • Humidity
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Temperature
  • Water Loss, Insensible*