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ArticleResponse to ‘On the importance of understanding physiology when estimating energetics in cetaceans’(Company of Biologists, 2017-02-15) Fahlman, Andreas ; van der Hoop, Julie ; Moore, Michael J. ; Levine, Gregg ; Rocho-Levine, Julie ; Brodsky, MicahWe are grateful for the interest in our paper by two eminent physiologists and hope this response to their comments will clarify the objectives of our paper. The analysis in Fahlman et al. (2016) was not intended to provide an accurate method to estimate field metabolic rate (FMR) in large mysticetes; the objective was to measure the dynamic changes in physiology associated with recovery from exercise and show that they are important to consider when estimating FMR. While static averages can provide useful estimates of FMR for a variety of situations, these need to be appropriately selected. For example, we illustrate that it is not possible to use selected average values chosen from excised tissues or resting animals (as in Blix and Folkow, 1995) to provide meaningful estimates of FMR for animals at different activities (i.e. the dolphins in our study). Our study highlights the importance of temporal variation in physiological models: the Blix and Folkow (1995) estimates rely on the assumption that only breathing frequency (fR) changes with activity, while we argue that both the tidal volume (VT) and mixed lung O2 content also vary with activity and recovery from a dive (Ridgway et al., 1969). Including this variation in all three parameters reduces temporal uncertainty in the same conceptual model (see Eqn. 1 in Fahlman et al., 2016).
ArticleEstimating energetics in cetaceans from respiratory frequency : why we need to understand physiology(The Company of Biologists, 2016-04-15) Fahlman, Andreas ; van der Hoop, Julie ; Moore, Michael J. ; Levine, Gregg ; Rocho-Levine, Julie ; Brodsky, MicahThe accurate estimation of field metabolic rates (FMR) in wild animals is a key component of bioenergetic models, and is important for understanding the routine limitations for survival as well as individual responses to disturbances or environmental changes. Several methods have been used to estimate FMR, including accelerometer-derived activity budgets, isotope dilution techniques, and proxies from heart rate. Counting the number of breaths is another method used to assess FMR in cetaceans, which is attractive in its simplicity and the ability to measure respiration frequency from visual cues or data loggers. This method hinges on the assumption that over time a constant tidal volume (VT) and O2 exchange fraction (ΔO2) can be used to predict FMR. To test whether this method of estimating FMR is valid, we measured breath-by-breath tidal volumes and expired O2 levels of bottlenose dolphins, and computed the O2 consumption rate (V̇O2) before and after a pre-determined duration of exercise. The measured V̇O2 was compared with three methods to estimate FMR. Each method to estimate V̇O2 included variable VT and/or ΔO2. Two assumption-based methods overestimated V̇O2 by 216-501%. Once the temporal changes in cardio-respiratory physiology, such as variation in VT and ΔO2, were taken into account, pre-exercise resting V̇O2 was predicted to within 2%, and post-exercise V̇O2 was overestimated by 12%. Our data show that a better understanding of cardiorespiratory physiology significantly improves the ability to estimate metabolic rate from respiratory frequency, and further emphasizes the importance of eco-physiology for conservation management efforts.