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Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0716-9760


NESPOLO, Roberto F; SEPULVEDA, Roger D; CASTANEDA, Luis E  and  ROFF, Derek A. Effects of shape variations on the energy metabolism of the sand cricket Gryllus firmus: a geometric morphometric analysis. Biol. Res. [online]. 2011, vol.44, n.1, pp.69-74. ISSN 0716-9760.

Respiration and energy metabolism are key processes in animals, which are severely constrained by the design of physical structures, such as respiratory structures. Insects have very particular respiratory systems, based on gas diffusion across tracheae. Since the efficiency of the tracheal respiratory system is highly dependent on body shape, the pattern of morphological variation during ontogeny could have important metabolic consequences. We studied this problem combining through-flow respirometry and geometric morphometrics in 88 nymphs of the sand cricket, Gryllus firmus. After measuring production in each individual, we took digital photographs and defined eight landmarks for geometric morphometric analysis. The analysis suggested that ontogenic deformations were mostly related to enlargement of the abdomen, compared to thorax and head. We found that (controlling for body size) metabolic variables and especially resting metabolism are positively correlated with a shape-component associated to an elongation of the abdomen. Our results are in agreement with the mechanics of tracheal ventilation in orthopterans, as gas circulation occurs by changes in abdominal pressures due to abdominal contractions and expansions along the longitudinal axis.

Keywords : Shape variations; metabolic rate; morphology; insect respiration; orthopter; sand crickets.

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