Development and regulation of heart rate in embryos and hatchlings of gulls (Larus schistisagus and Larus crassirostris) in relation to growth

J. T. Pearson, K. Moriya, M. Yanone, H. Tazawa

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We compared the developmental patterns of mean heart rate in Larus crassirostris and L. schistisagus embryos and chicks with other avian species of different hatchling developmental modes. We proposed that, since mean heart rate is inversely related to fresh egg mass in all birds, larger species reached a higher fraction of their hatchling mean heart rate by the end of the early phase of incubation and that heart rate contributions to supplying the increasing metabolic demands during mid and late incubation phases were less important than in smaller avian species. Mean heart rate was essentially independent of age throughout the mid-incubation phase (33% of normalised incubation until pipping), but increased with time during early (L. schistisagus only investigated) and late-incubation phases in both species. The O2 pulse of L. schistisagus embryos and chicks increased linearly with yolk-free body mass (log-log) after the early-phase of incubation until shortly before pipping, but was independent of body mass in the periods before and after. We conclude that a high heart rate in this first period is probably more important for increasing the circulation of nutrients to the embryo at a stage when extra-embryonic circulation to the yolk sac is limited by the size of the growing area vaculosa. Furthermore, large increases in mean heart rate during the late-incubation phase are probably important for increasing the cardiac output to hatching levels with onset of endothermy. However, mean heart rate is stable over the mid-incubation while O2 pulse increases, suggesting that increases in stroke volume and other circulatory adjustments may be entirely responsible for the largest increases in O2 transport during incubation of large avian species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-438
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology - B Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Avian
  • Growth
  • Heart rate
  • Larus
  • O pulse

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