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Measuring metabolic rate with Sable Respirometry System

By: Jean Sandoval

Respirometry is better known as the science of measuring the fire of life, a general term that encompasses a number of techniques for obtaining estimates of the rates of metabolism of organism’s through the measurements of oxygen consumption. Between the 10th and the 16th of February a course in Sable System Respirometry System was given in the Tirimbina Biological reserve.

This course consisted of the theoretical concepts of respirometry and energetics with a practical workshop on the assembly and techniques for the operation of sable system respirometry equipment for small mammals. This system works with measurements that rely on pressure changes to quantify the amount of oxygen consumed by an organism, in this case Ectophylla alba(Chiroptera).

A total of 10 bats were captured on two separate occasions in the area surrounding Tirimbina. Metabolic rate was calculated as the mean rate of oxygen consumption at the temperatures of lowest oxygen consumption. We made recordings of oxygen consumption at 20ºC, 25ºC, 28ºC, 31ºC and 35ºC. With these measurements we determined the oxygen consumption of the Ectophylla alba, which allowed us to establish the energetic advantages of tent building.


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