To determine the costs of pulmonary ventilation without imposing severe oxygen limitations or acidosis that normally accompany exposures to hypoxia or hypercapnia, we opted to pharmacologically stimulate ventilation with doxapram (5 and 10 mg kg−1) in alligators. Doxapram is used clinically to alleviate ventilatory depression in response to anaesthesia and acts primarily on the peripheral oxygen sensitive chemoreceptors. Using this approach, we investigate the hypothesis that pulmonary ventilation is relatively modest in comparison to resting metabolic rate in crocodilians and equipped seven juvenile alligators with masks for concurrent determination of ventilation and oxygen uptake. Doxapram elicited a dose-dependent and up to four-fold rise in ventilation, primarily by increasing ventilatory frequency. The attending rise in oxygen uptake was very small; ventilation in resting animals constitutes no more than 5 % of resting metabolic rate. The conclusion that pulmonary ventilation is energetically cheap is consistent with earlier studies on alligators where ventilation has been stimulated by hypoxia, hypercapnia.

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