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Energy consumption of European and African shrews
Is the extremely high oxygen consumption of shrews due to an unusually high basal metabolism? In an attempt to answer this long-standing question, we have measured the oxygen consumption of 13 species of shrews of different origin: from Europe - Sorex araneus, S. Minutus, Neomys fodiens, Crocidura russula, and Suncus etruscus; from Africa - Crocidura bottegi, C. bicolor, C. jouvenetae; C. poensis, C. theresae, C. Wimmeri, C. flavescens, and C. giffardi, The measurements, taken over a period of 20-30 minutes, were made in small, closed-system chambers at 25°C. The metabolic rat our shrews of the subfamily Soricinae lies between the eman and minimum values of the Soricini (M=126.2 W0.52 cal/h and M=82.6 W0.53 cal/h, respectively), as recorded in the literature. Zhe average for the African Crocidurinae is much lower (M= 43.6 W0.67). The metabolic rate of the European Croccidura russula agrees with that of the African species. Thus, the Crocidurinae are characterized by a relatively low metabolic rate; the Soricinae, and in particular the tribe of the Soricini, by an extremely high metabolic rate. The tribes Neomyini and Blarinini occupy an intermediate position. These differences are also to be found at the level of the basal metabolism. This main difference between the two sub-families can most likely be explained by evolution in geographical isolation under differential climatic conditions: the Crocidurinae having evolved in tropical Africa and the Soricinae in temperate Eurasia
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