Validation of a Pulse Oximetry System for High-Altitude Waterfowl by Examining the Hypoxia Responses of the Andean Goose (Chloephaga melanoptera) Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Hypoxia at high altitudes constrains O2 supply to support metabolism, thermoregulation in the cold, and exercise. High-altitude natives that somehow overcome this challenge-who live, reproduce, and sometimes perform impressive feats of exercise at high altitudes-are a powerful group in which to study the evolution of physiological systems underlying hypoxia resistance. Here, we sought to determine whether a common pulse oximetry system for rodents (MouseOx Plus) can be used reliably in studies of high-altitude birds by examining the hypoxia responses of the Andean goose. We compared concurrent measurements of heart rate obtained using pulse oximetry versus electrocardiography. We also compared our measurements of peripheral arterial O2 saturation (SaO2) in uncannulated birds with published data collected from blood samples in birds that were surgically implanted arterial cannulae. Responses to acute hypoxia were measured during stepwise reductions in inspired partial pressure of O2. Andean geese exhibited very modest breathing and heart rate responses to hypoxia but were nevertheless able to maintain normal O2 consumption rates during severe hypoxia exposure down to 5 kPa O2. There were some minor quantitative differences between uncannulated and cannulated birds, which suggest that surgery, cannulation, and/or other sources of variability between studies had modest effects on the hypoxic ventilatory response, heart rate, blood hemoglobin, and hematocrit. Nevertheless, measurements of heart rate and SaO2 by pulse oximetry had small standard errors and were generally concordant and well correlated with measurements using other techniques. We conclude that the MouseOx Plus pulse oximetry system can be a valuable tool for studying the cardiorespiratory physiology of waterfowl without the deleterious effects of surgery/cannulation.


  • Ivy, Catherine M
  • York, Julia M
  • Lague, Sabine L
  • Chua, Beverly A
  • Alza, Luis
  • McCracken, Kevin G
  • Milsom, William K
  • Scott, Graham

publication date

  • May 2018