Ventilatory control of the composition of the gases in the air sacs was studied during entry into fasting-induced, shallow, nocturnal hypothermia in the domestic pigeon (Columba livia). Respiratory frequency (f), tidal volume (VT) and oxygen uptake (VOO2 were recorded simultaneously in six pigeons; partial pressures of CO2 and O2 in the abdominal and interclavicular air sacs were measured in seven pigeons. Ambient temperature was 25°C (thermoneutral) and the body temperature (Tb) was recorded in all experiments.

A reduction in Tb from 40.5 to 37.5°C paralleled decreases in f and VT from 13.3 min−1 and 15.2 ml BTPSkg−1 to 10.7 min−1 and 12.4ml BTPSkg−1, respectively. There was a minor, but non-significant, simultaneous decrease in the ventilatory requirement (total ventilation/O2 uptake) from 0.38 to O.35 ml BTPSmmol−1. However, in both air sacs the partial pressure of CO2 increased when Tb decreased, indicating an effective parabronchial hypoventilation.

The results support the idea of a gradually developing respiratory acidosis during hypothermia.

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