Erythrocyte osmotic fragility of red (Macropus rufus) and grey (Macropus fuliginosus and Macropus giganteus) kangaroos and free-ranging sheep of the arid regions of Australia

R. Buffenstein, H. C.K. McCarron, T. J. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

The mean corpuscular fragility (MCF) of erythrocytes may reflect phylogenetic characteristics as well as an animal's ability to respond to the osmotic challenges associated with cyclic dehydration and rehydration. This type of ecophysiological stress is commonly encountered by animals living in arid regions and low MCF may contribute to their ability to survive and thrive in these xeric habitats. The eastern grey kangaroo has only in recent times extended its range into the arid zone, and is considered a more mesic inhabitant than the red kangaroo. We therefore compared the ability of eastern grey kangaroos and red kangaroos to handle prolonged periods of water restriction, as well as the MCF of the erythrocytes of free-ranging red, eastern grey and western grey kangaroos found at the Fowlers Gap field station. In addition, the MCF of free-ranging sheep inhabiting the same pastures were used as an experimental control; they are phylogenetically unrelated yet are subjected to the same acclimatisation stresses. While red kangaroos exhibited greater tolerance of dehydration compared to eastern grey kangaroos, the MCF of all three kangaroo species was similar and more resilient to osmotic stresses (MCF, 130 mosmol/kg) than erythrocytes of sheep (MCF, 220 mosmol/kg). The MCF did not change with water restriction, however, the erythrocytes of long-term captive populations fed a comparatively better quality diet were more resistant to osmotic shock than the free-ranging animals. Phylogenetic commonality rather than ecophysiological responses to life in the arid zone appeared to influence MCF. The MCF values of sheep corresponded to that of other ovines; similarly the MCF of kangaroos concurred regardless of their preferred habitats, ecological history and differential success in the arid zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology - B Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Volume171
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 28 2001

Keywords

  • Dehydration
  • Erythrocyte
  • Kangaroo
  • Osmotic fragility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology

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