Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gazelles Shrink Liver And Heart To Reduce Oxygen Consumption During Drought

Date:
June 9, 2006
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
How do gazelles and other large desert mammals adjust their physiology to survive when food and water are in short supply? A fascinating new study from the July/August issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology reveals that gazelles in the deserts of Saudi Arabia have evolved the ability to shrink oxygen-demanding organs such as the liver and heart, allowing them to breathe less. Fewer breaths reduce the amount of water lost to respiratory evaporation during prolonged periods of drought.

There are few sources of drinking water in the desert, so sand gazelles must rely on vegetation for both food and water requirements.
Credit: Courtesy Stéphane Ostrowski

How do gazelles and other large desert mammals adjust their physiology to survive when food and water are in short supply? A fascinating new study from the July/August issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology reveals that gazelles in the deserts of Saudi Arabia have evolved the ability to shrink oxygen-demanding organs such as the liver and heart, allowing them to breathe less. Fewer breaths reduce the amount of water lost to respiratory evaporation during prolonged periods of drought.

"We found that gazelles had the lowest total evaporative water loss ever measured in an arid zone ungulate [hoofed animal]," write Stéphane Otrowski (National Wildlife Research Center, Saudi Arabia), Pascal Mésochina (National Wildlife Research Center, Saudi Arabia), and Joseph B. Williams (Ohio State University). Sand gazelles' livers and hearts -- which are important determinants of metabolic rate -- decrease significantly in mass during four months of food and water restriction. Conversely, the gut walls, which are responsible in ruminants for 28-46% of whole-body protein synthesis, an energy demanding process, did not decrease significantly in mass. There are few sources of drinking water in the desert, so sand gazelles must rely on vegetation for both food and water requirements.

"The deserts of the Arabian Peninsula are among the most austere of terrestrial environments, with low, unpredictable rainfall, and high ambient temperature," explain the authors. "The sand gazelle has evolved a remarkable capacity to reduce its evaporative water losses, which is likely a component of their success."

Unexpectedly, the researchers also found that deprived sand gazelles had a higher fat content in the brain, revealing that gazelles may store fats in the brain to secure brain metabolism during prolonged food and water deprivation.

Since 1928, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology has presented original, current research in environmental, adaptational, and comparative physiology and biochemistry.

Reference: Ostrowski, Stéphane, Pascal Mésochina, and Joseph B. Williams. "Physiological adjustments of sand gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa) to a boom or burst economy: standard fasting metabolic rate, total evaporative water loss and changes in the size of organs during food and water restriction." Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 79:4.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Gazelles Shrink Liver And Heart To Reduce Oxygen Consumption During Drought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060609093945.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2006, June 9). Gazelles Shrink Liver And Heart To Reduce Oxygen Consumption During Drought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060609093945.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Gazelles Shrink Liver And Heart To Reduce Oxygen Consumption During Drought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060609093945.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) — Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) — Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins