We study here the connections among body temperature variation, flight performance and flight ‘fuel’ metabolism in Colias eurytheme butterflies, to begin re-examining the metabolic reasons for animal thermoregulation. Methods are presented for (a) stable extraction of adenylates (and other metabolites) from the flight muscles of individual Colias eurytheme, (b) automated separation and quantitative analysis of individual adenylate samples by high-pressure liquid chromatography and (c) reliable, low-variance assay of inorganic phosphate levels in the same extracts. Correlations among metabolite concentrations and two indices of muscle cytosol ATP maintenance occur as expected on general metabolic principles. [ATP] and [ATP]/[ADP] decline from resting levels to reach a plateau in the first minute of free, interrupted flight, while [AMP] increases at the same time; these concentrations do not vary further for up to 6 min total flight time. In an initial test of the alternative metabolic bases of the thermoregulation of Colias eurytheme, we find that [ATP]/[ADP] rises between a body temperature, T(b), of 31 and 35 degrees C, at the base of the behavioral thermal optimum for flight, but then decreases again at T(b)=39 degrees C, at the top of the behavioral thermal optimum and well short of damaging temperatures. This is not consistent with the view that metabolic effectiveness increases monotonically up to the lower limits of thermal damage to enzymes, but supports an alternative hypothesis that the narrowness of thermoregulation results from a system-based constraint on the breadth of temperature over which maximal energy processing is possible.
Flight-muscle adenylate pool responses to flight demands and thermal constraints in individual Colias eurytheme (Lepidoptera, pieridae)
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M.J. Kohane, W.B. Watt; Flight-muscle adenylate pool responses to flight demands and thermal constraints in individual Colias eurytheme (Lepidoptera, pieridae). J Exp Biol 15 November 1999; 202 (22): 3145–3154. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.202.22.3145
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