Mechanical and aerobic energy costs of diving were measured simultaneously by closed-circuit respirometry in six lesser scaup Aythya affinis Eyton (body mass=591±30 g) during bouts of voluntary feeding dives. Durations of dives (td=13.5±1.4 s) and surface intervals (ti=16.3±2.2 s) were within the normal range for ducks diving to 1.5 m depth. Mechanical power output (3.69±0.24 W kg-1) and aerobic power input (29.32±2.47 W kg-1) were both higher than previous estimates. Buoyancy was found to be the dominant factor determining dive costs, contributing 62 % of the mechanical cost of descent and 87 % of the cost of staying at the bottom while feeding. Drag forces, including the contribution from the forward-moving hindlimbs during the recovery stroke of the leg-beat cycle, contributed 27 % and 13 % of the mechanical costs of descent and feeding, respectively. Inertial forces created by net acceleration during descent contributed approximately 11 % during descent but not at all during the feeding phase. Buoyant force at the start of voluntary dives (6.2±0.35 N kg-1) was significantly greater than that measured in restrained ducks (4.9±0.2 N kg-1). Loss of air from the plumage layer and compression due to hydrostatic pressure decreased buoyancy by 32 %. Mechanical work and power output were 1.9 and 2.4 times greater during descent than during the feeding phase. Therefore, energetic costs are strongly affected by dive-phase durations. Estimates by unsteady and steady biomechanical models differ significantly during descent but not during the feeding phase.

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