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Tampa, FL, United States

Huber D.R.,The University of Tampa | Neveu D.E.,The University of Tampa | Neveu D.E.,University of South Florida | Stinson C.M.,The University of Tampa | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Biology | Year: 2013

Semi-fossorial ground squirrels face challenges to respiratory gas transport associated with the chronic hypoxia and hypercapnia of underground burrows, and such challenges are compounded in species that are native to high altitude. During hibernation, such species must also contend with vicissitudes of blood gas concentrations and plasma pH caused by episodic breathing. Here, we report an analysis of hemoglobin (Hb) function in six species of marmotine ground squirrels with different altitudinal distributions. Regardless of their native altitude, all species have high Hb-O2 affinities, mainly due to suppressed sensitivities to allosteric effectors [2,3-diphosphoglycerate (DPG) and chloride ions]. This suppressed anion sensitivity is surprising given that all canonical anion-binding sites are conserved. Two sciurid species, the golden-mantled and thirteen-lined ground squirrel, have Hb-O2 affinities that are characterized by high pH sensitivity and low thermal sensitivity relative to the Hbs of humans and other mammals. The pronounced Bohr effect is surprising in light of highly unusual amino acid substitutions at the C-termini that are known to abolish the Bohr effect in human HbA. Taken together, the high O2 affinity of sciurid Hbs suggests an enhanced capacity for pulmonary O2 loading under hypoxic and hypercapnic conditions, while the large Bohr effect should help to ensure efficient O 2 unloading in tissue capillaries. In spite of the relatively low thermal sensitivities of the sciurid Hbs, our results indicate that the effect of hypothermia on Hb oxygenation is the main factor contributing to the increased blood-O2 affinity in hibernating ground squirrels. © 2013. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Source

Anderson P.A.,Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation | Huber D.R.,The University of Tampa | Berzins I.K.,Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2012

A number of captive sandtiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) in public aquaria have developed spinal deformities over the past decade, ranging in severity from mild curvature to spinal fracture and severe subluxation. To determine the frequency and etiologic basis of this disease, U.S. public aquaria participated in a two-stage epidemiologic study of resident sharks: 1) a history and husbandry survey and 2) hematology, clinical chemistry, and radiography conducted during health exams. Eighteen aquaria submitted data, samples, or both from 73 specimens, including 19 affected sharks (26%). Sharks caught off the Rhode Island coast or by pound net were smaller at capture and demonstrated a higher prevalence of deformity than did larger sharks caught from other areas via hook and line. Relative to healthy sharks, affected sharks were deficient in zinc, potassium, and vitamins C and E. Capture and transport results lead to two likely etiologic hypotheses: 1) that the pound-net capture process induces spinal trauma that becomes exacerbated over time in aquarium environments or 2) that small (and presumably young) sharks caught by pound net are exposed to disease-promoting conditions (including diet or habitat deficiencies) in aquaria during the critical growth phase of their life history. The last hypothesis is further supported by nutrient deficiencies among affected sharks documented in this study; potassium, zinc, and vitamin C play critical roles in proper cartilage-collagen development and maintenance. These correlative findings indicate that public aquaria give careful consideration to choice of collection methods and size at capture and supplement diets to provide nutrients required for proper development and maintenance of cartilaginous tissue. © 2012 American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Source

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