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Low thermal dependence of the contractile properties of a wing muscle in the bat Carollia perspicillata [RESEARCH ARTICLE]

Andrea D. Rummel, Sharon M. Swartz, and Richard L. Marsh

Temperature affects contractile rate properties in muscle, which may affect locomotor performance. Endotherms are known to maintain high core body temperatures, but temperatures in the periphery of the body can fluctuate. Such a phenomenon occurs in bats, whose wing musculature is relatively poorly insulated, resulting in substantially depressed temperatures in the distal wing. We examined a wing muscle in the small-bodied tropical bat Carollia perspicillata and a hindlimb muscle in the laboratory mouse at 5°C intervals from 22 to 42°C to determine the thermal dependence of the contractile properties of both muscles. We found that the bat ECRL had low thermal dependence from near body temperature to 10°C lower, with Q10 values of less than 1.5 for relaxation from contraction and shortening velocities in that interval, and with no significant difference in some rate properties in the interval between 32 and 37°C. In contrast, for all temperature intervals below 37°C, Q10 values for the mouse EDL were 1.5 or higher, and rate properties differed significantly across successive temperature intervals from 37 to 22°C. An ANCOVA analysis found that the thermal dependencies of all measured isometric and isotonic rate processes were significantly different between the bat and mouse muscles. The relatively low thermal dependence of the bat muscle likely represents a downward shift of its optimal temperature and may be functionally significant in light of the variable operating temperatures of bat wing muscles.

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