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Insect Physiological EcologyMechanisms and Patterns$
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Steven L. Chown and Sue Nicolson

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198515494

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198515494.001.0001

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Metabolism and gas exchange

Metabolism and gas exchange

(p.49) CHAPTER 3 Metabolism and gas exchange
Insect Physiological Ecology

Steven L. Chown

Sue W. Nicolson

Oxford University Press

Energy is a currency common to all animals, and the suite of responses shown by insects to the environments they inhabit is dependent on the metabolism of substrates. This chapter deals largely with aerobic catabolism and gas exchange, although anaerobic metabolism, which is relatively uncommon in insects, is also discussed. Gas exchange is typically via spiracles and tracheae, with oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange being divided both spatially and temporally to varying extents. Discontinuous gas exchange is characteristic of several insect species and it is thought to have evolved either to limit water loss, prevent oxidative damage, improve gas exchange under certain conditions, or simply as the outcome of interacting feedback systems. These mechanisms have all proven controversial. Metabolic rate varies with temperature, size, activity, feeding, and time of day. Insects in flight have some of the highest metabolic rates so far measured in any animals, and the costs of transport in caterpillars are relatively high. Understanding metabolic rate variation may provide a key to understanding global patterns in diversity.

Keywords:   aerobic metabolism, convection, cost of transport, diffusion, discontinuous gas exchange, flight, scaling, ventilation

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