MEPS 523:187-198 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11195

Comparative seabird diving physiology: first measures of haematological parameters and oxygen stores in three New Zealand Procellariiformes

B. J. Dunphy1,*, G. A. Taylor2, T. J. Landers3, R. L . Sagar1, B. L. Chilvers 2, L. Ranjard4, M. J. Rayner1,5

1School of Biological Sciences, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
2Department of Conservation, PO Box 10420, Wellington 6143, New Zealand
3Auckland Council, Research, Investigations and Monitoring Unit, Level 4, 1 The Strand, Takapuna Auckland 0622, New Zealand
4The Bioinformatics Institute, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
5Auckland Museum, Private Bag 92018, Victoria Street West, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Within breath-hold diving endotherms, procellariiform seabirds present an intriguing anomaly as they regularly dive to depths not predicted by allometric models. How this is achieved is not known as even basic measures of physiological diving capacity have not been undertaken in this group. To remedy this we combined time depth recorder (TDR) measurements of dive behaviour with haematology and oxygen store estimates for 3 procellariiform species (common diving petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix urinatrix; grey-faced petrels Pterodroma macroptera gouldi; and sooty shearwaters Puffinus griseus) during their incubation phase. Among species, we found distinct differences in dive depth (average and maximal), dive duration and dives h-1, with sooty shearwaters diving deeper and for longer than grey-faced petrels and common diving petrels. Conversely, common diving petrels dove much more frequently, albeit to shallow depths, whereas grey-faced petrels rarely dived whatsoever. Such differences in dive behaviour were reflected in haematological parameters, with sooty shearwaters having higher red blood cell counts and haematocrit (Hct) values compared to common diving and grey-faced petrels; whereas common diving petrels had significantly lower Hct but possessed higher haemoglobin concentrations per cell and greater respiratory oxygen stores than both sooty shearwaters and grey-faced petrels. Such results provide the first insights into the physiological traits underpinning procellariiform dive behaviour, and confirm the trend for deep-diving seabirds to have proportionally lower blood and respiratory oxygen stores than shallow divers.


KEY WORDS: Petrel · Shearwater · Physiology · Time depth recorder · TDR · Allometry


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Cite this article as: Dunphy BJ, Taylor GA, Landers TJ, Sagar RL, Chilvers BL, Ranjard L, Rayner MJ (2015) Comparative seabird diving physiology: first measures of haematological parameters and oxygen stores in three New Zealand Procellariiformes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 523:187-198. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11195

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