Morphometrics of the avian lung. 2. The wild mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and graylag goose (Anser anser)

Respir Physiol. 1982 Dec;50(3):299-310. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(82)90025-1.


The lungs of 5 wild mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and 5 feral graylag geese (Anser anser) of mean body weight 1.04 and 3.84 kg, respectively, were fixed in situ by intratracheal infusion of 2.3% glutaraldehyde, pH 7.4 and total osmolarity 350 mOsm, at a pressure head of 25 cm, and analysed by standard morphometric techniques. The following data apply to both lungs together, in the fixed state, the first value relating to Anas and the second to Anser in each case: lung volume, 30.4 and 95.3 cm3; volume of exchange tissue, 12.32 and 38.50 cm3; volume of capillary blood, 4.06 and 12.49 cm3; surface area of blood-gas (tissue) barrier per unit body weight, 28.56 and 23.10 cm2/g; surface area of the blood-gas (tissue) barrier per unit volume of lung, 977 and 932 cm2/cm3; surface area of blood-gas (tissue) barrier per unit volume of exchange tissue, 241 and 230 mm2/mm3; harmonic mean thickness of tissue barrier, 0.133 and 0.118 microns; arithmetic mean thickness of tissue barrier, 0.903 and 0.887 microns; harmonic mean thickness of plasma layer, 0.369 and 0.322 microns; mean total morphometric pulmonary diffusing capacity per unit body weight, 3.85 and 3.59 ml O2/min/mm Hg/kg. These morphometric parameters of Anas and Anser are compared with those reported in the literature for the domestic fowl (Gallus gallus), the budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus), the house sparrow (Passer domesticus), and the violet-eared hummingbird (Colibri coruscans). The lungs of these six avian species show progressively advancing adaptations, from Gallus, through Anser, Anas, Melopsittacus and Passer, to Colibri, which appear to be consistent with the energetic characteristics of these birds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ducks / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Gases / blood
  • Geese / anatomy & histology*
  • Lung / anatomy & histology*
  • Lung / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Circulation
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity


  • Gases