Static inflation and deflation pressure–volume curves from excised lungs of marine mammals




Fahlman, Andreas
Loring, Stephen
Ferrigno, Massimo
Moore, Colby
Early, Greg
Niemeyer, Misty
Lentell, Betty
Wenzel, Frederic
Joy, Ruth
Moore, Michael J.

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The Company of Biologists


Excised lungs from eight marine mammal species [harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), gray seal (Halichoerus grypush), Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) and harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)] were used to determine the minimum air volume of the relaxed lung (MAV, N=15), the elastic properties (pressure–volume curves, N=24) of the respiratory system and the total lung capacity (TLC). Our data indicate that mass-specific TLC (sTLC, l kg–1) does not differ between species or groups (odontocete vs phocid) and agree with that estimated (TLCest) from body mass (Mb) by applying the equation: TLCest=0.135 Mb0.92. Measured MAV was on average 7% of TLC, with a range from 0 to 16%. The pressure–volume curves were similar among species on inflation but diverged during deflation in phocids in comparison with odontocetes. These differences provide a structural basis for observed species differences in the depth at which lungs collapse and gas exchange ceases.



lung mechanics, total lung capacity, minimum air volume, excised lung, diving physiology


This project was supported by a grant from the Office of Naval Research [award number N00014-10-1-0059]; S.H.L. was supported by HL 52586 from the National Institutes of Health.



Fahlman, A., Loring, S.H., Ferrigno, M., Moore, C., Early, G., Niemeyer, M., Lentell, B., Wenzel, F., Joy, R. and Moore, M.J., 2011. Static inflation and deflation pressure–volume curves from excised lungs of marine mammals. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214(22), pp.3822-3828.