Reduced oxygen diffusion across the shell of Gray gull (Larus modestus) eggs
Gray gulls, Larus modestus, nest 1500 m above sea level in northern Chile's Atacama Desert, one of the driest in the world. Their eggshell gas permeability, one third of that found in other Larus species, is an adaptation that reduces water loss, but at the expense of oxygen diffusion into the air cell with resultant hypoxia and reduced metabolic rate. This contrasts with characteristics found in birds nesting at very high altitudes where oxygen diffusion across the egg shell is maximized at the expense of water conservation. The oxygen consumption (MO2) of Larus modestus is 66% that of Larus argentatus; the oxygen conductance (GO2) is equivalent to 48% of that obtained in 5 other bird species. The oxygen partial pressure (PAO2) in the air chamber of Larus modestus (84 Torr) is lower than that of 10 other bird species whose average (PAO2) is 106 Torr. The CO2 partial pressure (PACO2) in the air chamber of Larus modestus is 68 Torr, a higher value than that found in 9 other bird species whose average (PACO2) is 39 Torr.