Energetic Lifestyle Drives Size and Shape of Avian Erythrocytes

Soulsbury, Carl, Dobson, Jess, Deeming, Charles and Minias, Piotr (2021) Energetic Lifestyle Drives Size and Shape of Avian Erythrocytes. Integrative and Comparative Biology . icab195. ISSN 1540-7063

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/icb%2Ficab195

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Energetic Lifestyle Drives Size and Shape of Avian Erythrocytes
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Abstract

The size and shape of red blood cells (erythrocytes) is determined by key life history strategies in vertebrates. They have a fundamental role to deliver oxygen to tissues, and their ability to do so is shaped by the tissue's need and their shape. Despite considerable interest in how other components of blood are shaped by ecology and life history, few studies have considered erythrocytes themselves. We tested how erythrocyte size and shape varied in relation to energetically demanding activities using a dataset of 631 bird species. We found that in general, birds undergoing greater activities such as long distance migration had smaller and more elongated cells, while those with greater male-male competition had smaller and rounder cells. Smaller, more elongated erythrocytes allow more rapid oxygenation/deoxygenation and support greater aerobic activity. The rounder erythrocytes found in species with strong male–male competition may stem from younger erythrocytes deriving from androgen-induced erythropoiesis rates. Finally, diving species of bird had larger erythrocytes, indicating that erythrocytes are acting as a vital oxygen store. In summary, erythrocyte size and shape in birds are driven by the need to deliver oxygen during energetically costly activities.

Keywords:red blood cells, avian, energetics, migration, sexual selection
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:46946
Deposited On:18 Oct 2021 11:50

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