The relationship between heart rate (f(H)) and rate of oxygen consumption (V(O2)) was established for a marine diving bird, the common eider duck (Somateria mollissima), during steady-state swimming and running exercise. Both variables increased exponentially with speed during swimming and in a linear fashion during running. Eleven linear regressions of V(O2) (ml kg(−1)min(−1)) on f(H) (beats min(−1)) were obtained: five by swimming and six by running the birds. The common regression was described by V(O2)=10.1 + 0.15f(H) (r(2)=0.46, N=272, P<0.0001). The accuracy of this relationship for predicting mean V(O2) was determined for a group of six birds by recording f(H) continuously over a 2-day period and comparing estimated V(O2) obtained using the common regression with (i) V(O2) estimated using the doubly labelled water technique (DLW) and (ii) V(O2) measured using respirometry. A two-pool model produced the most accurate estimated V(O2) using DLW. Because of individual variability within mean values of V(O2) estimated using both techniques, there was no significant difference between mean V(O2) estimated using f(H) or DLW and measured V(O2) values (P>0.2), although individual errors were substantially less when f(H) was used rather than DLW to estimate V(O2). Both techniques are, however, only suitable for estimating mean V(O2) for a group of animals, not for individuals.Heart rate and behaviour were monitored during a bout of 63 voluntary dives by one female bird in an indoor tank 1.7 m deep. Tachycardia occurred both in anticipation of and following each dive. Heart rate decreased before submersion but was above resting values for the whole of the dive cycle. Mean f(H) at mean dive duration was significantly greater than f(H) while swimming at maximum sustainable surface speeds. Heart rate was used to estimate mean V(O2) during the dive cycle and to predict aerobic dive limit (ADL) for shallow dives.

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