Reduced oxygen availability (hypoxia) is a potent stressor during embryonic development, altering the trajectory of trait maturation and organismal phenotype. We previously documented that chronic embryonic hypoxia has a lasting impact on the metabolic response to feeding in juvenile snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina). Turtles exposed to hypoxia as embryos (10% O2, H10) exhibited an earlier and increased peak postprandial oxygen consumption rate, compared to control turtles (21% O2, N21). In the current study, we measured central blood flow patterns to determine whether the elevated postprandial metabolic response in H10 turtles is linked to lasting impacts on convective transport. Five years after hatching, turtles were instrumented to quantify systemic (Q̇sys) and pulmonary (Q̇pul) blood flows and heart rate (fH) before and after a ∼5% body mass meal. In adult N21 and H10 turtles, fH was increased significantly by feeding. While total stroke volume (Vstot) remained at fasted values, this tachycardia contributed to an elevation in total cardiac output (Q̇tot). However, there was a postprandial reduction in a net left-right (L-R) shunt in N21 snapping turtles only. Relative to N21 turtles, H10 animals exhibited higher Q̇sys due to increased blood flow through the right systemic outflow vessels of the heart. This effect of hypoxic embryonic development, reducing a net L-R cardiac shunt, may support the increased postprandial metabolic rate we previously reported in H10 turtles, and is further demonstration of adult reptile cardiovascular physiology being programmed by embryonic hypoxia.
- Received April 1, 2017.
- Accepted May 3, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd