Previous work has shown that during forcible submersion of domestic ducks there is a gradual reduction in heart rate to 10–20% of its predive value after 45–60 s. Bilateral denervation of the carotid body chemoreceptors abolishes most of this bradycardia. By use of implanted radio transmitters it has been shown that in free-swimming tufted ducks, Aythya fuligula, there is an immediate reduction in heart rate, on spontaneous diving, from an elevated predive level. It then increases for a few seconds before it stabilizes at a level similar to that recorded when the duck is swimming fairly vigorously. The present study has shown that, following bilateral denervation of the carotid bodies, there is a significant increase in mean dive duration but no effect on the immediate reduction in heart rate on submersion. Heart rate is, however, significantly higher toward the end of spontaneous dives after carotid body denervation. Unlike the situation in mallards and their domesticated varieties, carotid body denervation has no effect on heart rate in tufted ducks during the first 40 s of forced dives. The carotid bodies therefore do not play the dominant role in cardiac control during submersion of diving ducks that has been suggested by work involving the forcible submersion of the mallard duck and its domesticated varieties.
- Copyright © 1982 the American Physiological Society