Lung ventilation in Siren lacertina was studied using X-ray video, measurements of body cavity pressure and electromyography of hypaxial muscles. S. lacertina utilizes a two-stroke buccal pump in which mixing of expired and inspired gas is minimized by partial expansion of the buccal cavity during exhalation and then full expansion after exhalation is complete. Mixing is further reduced by the use of one or two accessory inspirations after the first, mixed-gas cycle. Exhalation occurs in two phases: a passive phase in which hydrostatic pressure and possibly lung elasticity force air out of the lungs, and an active phase in which contraction of the transverse abdominis (TA) muscle increases body cavity pressure and forces most of the remaining air out. In electromyograms of the lateral hypaxial musculature, the TA became active 200-400 ms before the rise in body cavity pressure, and activity ceased at peak pressure. The TA was not active during inspiration, and no consistent activity during breathing was noted in the external oblique, internal oblique and rectus abdominis muscles. The finding that the TA is the primary expiratory muscle in S. lacertina agrees with findings in a previous study of another salamander, Necturus maculosus. Together, these results indicate that the use of the TA for exhalation is a primitive character for salamanders and support the hypothesis that the breathing mechanism of salamanders represents an intermediate step in evolution between a buccal pump, in which only head muscles are used for ventilation, and an aspiration pump, in which axial muscles are used for both exhalation and inhalation. <P>

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