470 research outputs found

    Using Doubly-Labeled Water to Measure Energy Expenditure in an Important Small Ectotherm Drosophila melanogaster

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    Energy expenditure is a key variable in the study of ageing, and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a model organism that has been used to make step changes in our understanding of the ageing process. Standard methods for measurement of energy expenditure involve placing individuals in metabolic chambers where their oxygen consumption and CO2 production can be quantified. These measurements require separating individuals from any social context, and may only poorly reflect the environment in which the animals normally live. The doubly-labeled water (DLW) method is an isotope-based technique for measuring energy expenditure which overcomes these problems. However, technical challenges mean that the smallest animals this method has been previously applied to weighed 50-200 mg. We overcame these technical challenges to measure energy demands in Drosophila weighing 0.78 mg. Mass-specific energy expenditure varied between 43 and 65 mW·g(-1). These estimates are considerably higher than estimates using indirect calorimetry of Drosophila in small metabolic chambers (around 18 mW·g(-1)). The methodology we have established extends downwards by three orders of magnitude the size of animals that can be measured using DLW. This approach may be of considerable value in future ageing research attempting to understand the genetic and genomic basis of ageing

    No Evidence for a Trade-Off between Reproductive Investment and Immunity in a Rodent

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    Life history theory assumes there are trade-offs between competing functions such as reproduction and immunity. Although well studied in birds, studies of the trade-offs between reproduction and immunity in small mammals are scarce. Here we examined whether reduced immunity is a consequence of reproductive effort in lactating Brandt's voles (Lasiopodomys brandtii). Specifically, we tested the effects of lactation on immune function (Experiment I). The results showed that food intake and resting metabolic rate (RMR) were higher in lactating voles (6≤ litter size ≤8) than that in non-reproductive voles. Contrary to our expectation, lactating voles also had higher levels of serum total Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and anti-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) IgG and no change in phytohemagglutinin (PHA) response and anti-KLH Immunoglobulin M (IgM) compared with non-reproductive voles, suggesting improved rather than reduced immune function. To further test the effect of differences in reproductive investment on immunity, we compared the responses between natural large (n≥8) and small litter size (n≤6) (Experiment II) and manipulated large (11–13) and small litter size (2–3) (Experiment III). During peak lactation, acquired immunity (PHA response, anti-KLH IgG and anti-KLH IgM) was not significantly different between voles raising large or small litters in both experiments, despite the measured difference in reproductive investment (greater litter size, litter mass, RMR and food intake in the voles raising larger litters). Total IgG was higher in voles with natural large litter size than those with natural small litter size, but decreased in the enlarged litter size group compared with control and reduced group. Our results showed that immune function is not suppressed to compensate the high energy demands during lactation in Brandt's voles and contrasting the situation in birds, is unlikely to be an important aspect mediating the trade-off between reproduction and survival

    Communally breeding bats use physiological and behavioural adjustments to optimise daily energy expenditure

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    Small endotherms must change roosting and thermoregulatory behaviour in response to changes in ambient conditions if they are to achieve positive energy balance. In social species, for example many bats, energy expenditure is influenced by environmental conditions, such as ambient temperature, and also by social thermoregulation. Direct measurements of daily fluctuations in metabolic rates in response to ambient and behavioural variables in the field have not been technologically feasible until recently. During different reproductive periods, we investigated the relationships between ambient temperature, group size and energy expenditure in wild maternity colonies of Bechstein’s bats (Myotis bechsteinii). Bats used behavioural and physiological adjustments to regulate energy expenditure. Whether bats maintained normothermia or used torpor, the number of bats in the roosts as well changed with reproductive status and ambient temperature. During pregnancy and lactation, bats remained mostly normothermic and daily group sizes were relatively large, presumably to participate in the energetic benefits of social thermoregulation. In contrast, smaller groups were formed on days when bats used torpor, which occurred mostly during the post-lactation period. Thus, we were able to demonstrate on wild animals under natural conditions the significance of behavioural and physiological flexibility for optimal thermoregulatory behaviour in small endotherms

    Energy expenditure during flight in relation to body mass: effects of natural increases in mass and artificial load in Rose Coloured Starlings

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    Rose Coloured Starlings (Sturnus roseus) flew repeatedly for several hours in a wind tunnel while undergoing spontaneous variation in body mass. The treatments were as follows: flying unrestrained (U), with a control harness of 1.2% of their body mass (C), or with a harness of 7.4% of their body mass, which was either applied immediately before the flight (LS) or at least 9 days in advance (LL). Energy expenditure during flight (ef in W) was measured with the Doubly Labelled Water method. Flight costs in LS and LL were not significantly different and therefore were pooled (L). The harness itself did not affect ef, i.e. U and C flights were not different. ef was allometrically related with body mass m (in g). The slopes were not significantly different between the treatments, but ef was increased by 5.4% in L compared to C flights (log10(ef) = 0.050 + 0.47 × log10(m) for C, and log10(ef) = 0.073 + 0.47 × log10(m) for L). The difference in ef between C, LS and LL was best explained by taking the transported mass mtransp (in g) instead of m into account (log10(ef) = −0.08 + 0.54 × log10(mtransp)). Flight costs increased to a lesser extent than expected from interspecific allometric comparison or aerodynamic theory, regardless of whether the increase in mass occurred naturally or artificially. We did not observe an effect of treatment on breast muscle size and wingbeat frequency. We propose that the relatively low costs at a high mass are rather a consequence of immediate adjustments in physiology and/or flight behaviour than of long-term adaptations

    Effect of mitratapide on body composition, body measurements and glucose tolerance in obese Beagles

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    The objective of this study was to confirm that weight loss after treatment with mitratapide (Yarvitan®) is loss of adipose tissue. Obese dogs were treated with the recommended treatment schedule of mitratapide. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) was done before and after the treatment schedule. Body weight, feed consumption and pelvic circumference were recorded and a glucose tolerance test was performed. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry measurements showed an impressive loss of fat tissue, corresponding to a mean loss of approximately 41.6% of the body fat mass recorded before treatment. After treatment with mitratapide, the mean body fat percentage had returned within the normal range. At the end of the study, the dogs had lost on average 14.2% of their body weight and 15.2% of their pelvic circumference compared to baseline. The results also suggest that losing weight with mitratapide might help to reverse insulin resistance