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Comparative Study
, 45 (3), 243-60

Blood Oxygen Transport and Organ Weights of Small Bats and Small Non-Flying Mammals

Comparative Study

Blood Oxygen Transport and Organ Weights of Small Bats and Small Non-Flying Mammals

K D Jürgens et al. Respir Physiol.


Blood oxygen transport properties and organ weights of five bat species in the weight range between 4.8 and 150 g have been investigated and compared to four similar-size non-flying mammals. In addition allometric organ weight-body weight relations have been compiled for both groups. All bats had higher relative heart weights than the terrestrial mammals. In both groups the relative heart weight increased with decreasing body weight. In bats hemoglobin concentrations (18.2--24.4 g Hb/dl), hematocrits (51--63%), and red blood cell counts (11.0 x 10(6)--26.2 x 10(6) RBC/microliter) were remarkably increased compared to non-flying mammals (15.3--17.4 g Hb/dl, 44--50% Hct, 8.8 x 10(6)--18.3 x 10(6) RBC/microliters). The highest values have been found in the smallest european bat Pipistrellus pipistrellus (4.8 g), they exceeded by far the results of the smallest terrestrial mammal, the shrew Suncus etruscus (2.5 g). Oxygen half saturation pressures and Bohr factors did not show considerable differences between similar-size flying and non-flying mammals. Our results indicate that the higher specific oxygen uptake of flying bats compared to exercising non-flying mammals is mainly enabled by larger hearts and larger blood oxygen capacities.

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