Water metabolism and renal function and structure in eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus): Responses to water deprivation

C. E. Blaney, T. J. Dawson, H. C.K. McCarron, R. Buffenstein, A. K. Krockenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The eastern grey kangaroo (M. giganteus) is usually found in mesic habitats but in the past 30-40 years it has expanded its range into arid rangelands. A suggested reason for this expansion has been the provision of additional water sites for domestic stock. In this study we examined aspects of kidney function and water metabolism of M. giganteus. This was done during normal hydration and water restriction so that the water-conserving abilities of M. giganteus could be compared with those of the red kangaroo (M. rufus), the habitat of which is arid rangelands and desert. The indices relative medullary thickness (RMT) and medullary to cortical ratio, derived from the morphology of the kidney, are indicators of renal concentrating ability. In M. giganteus both these indices were lower than in M. rufus: The RMT was 5.24 ± 0.15 (mean ± s.e.) for M. giganteus and 6.00 ± 0.10 for M. rufus. Measured maximal urine concentrations of these species were 2444 ± 59 (M. giganteus) and 3135 ± 165 mosmol kg-1 (M. rufus), with the respective maximum individual concentrations being 2752 and 4054 mosmol kg-1 Kidney function in hydrated and dehydrated M. giganteus was assessed via glomerular filtration rate, urine flow rate and concentration index. As measured by these parameters, M. giganteus had renal water-conserving capacities similar to, or superior to, those of many comparable-sized arid-zone-inhabiting placental mammals, but below those of M. rufus. Water metabolism, as measured by water turnover, showed a similar pattern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-345
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Journal of Zoology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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