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Oxygen Transport in the Avian Egg at High Altitude

Craig Patrick Black and Gregory K. Snyder
American Zoologist
Vol. 20, No. 2 (1980), pp. 461-468
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3882408
Page Count: 8
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Oxygen Transport in the Avian Egg at High Altitude
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Abstract

Oxygen transport to avian embryo tissues occurs by three steps, two of which are driven by diffusion. This results in a series of stepwise decrements in Po2 between atmosphere and tissue. The Po2 decrements for embryos of the domestic fowl incubated at different altitudes are used here to examine potential adaptations to hypobaric hypoxia. With exposure to moderate hypoxia embryos of the domestic fowl appear to maintain adequate tissue oxygenation. Adaptive adjustments in the shell, shell membranes and chorioallantois complex were not observed. However, $\text{hemoglobin-}{\rm O}_{2}$ affinity was increased and preliminary evidence suggests a redistribution of blood flow to maintain adequate oxygenation in higher priority areas of embryonic tissue. At severe hypoxia, embryos of the domestic fowl show decreased O2 consumption, embryo mass and lengthened incubation period. Thus, at severe hypoxia, the embryo of the domestic fowl does not appear to provide a realistic model. Evidence from avian embryos of species native to high altitude suggest that they are able to maintain adequate tissue oxygenation even at severe hypoxia. Preliminary evidence suggests that some of the blood, vascular system and tissue level adaptations present in the chicken embryo are also present in species native to high altitude. One of these, an increase in embryonic $\text{hemoglobin-}{\rm O}_{2}$ affinity which is physiologically mediated in the chicken embryo is genetically-based in the embryo of the native high-altitude species.

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