Amanda Reynolds Kirby, Brandt Smith, and Dane A. Crossley

Blood flow patterns and heart rate have rarely been investigated in freely swimming turtles and their regulation during swimming is unknown. In this study, we investigated the blood flow patterns and heart rate in surfacing and during graded, submerged swimming activity in common snapping turtles. We further investigated the effects of beta-adrenergic and cholinergic receptor blockade on blood flow and heart rate during these activities. Our findings illustrate that surfacing is accompanied by an increase in heart rate that is primarily due to beta-adrenergic stimulation. During swimming, this mechanism also increases heart rate while vagal withdrawal facilitates a systemic to pulmonary (left to right) shunt. The results indicate there may be important taxonomic effects on the responses of cardiac function to activity in turtle species.

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