The influence of temperature on power production during swimming. I. In vivo length change and stimulation pattern.

The Journal of experimental biology

PubMedID: 10607542

Swank DM, Rome LC. The influence of temperature on power production during swimming. I. In vivo length change and stimulation pattern. J Exp Biol. 2000;203(Pt 2):321-31.
Ectothermal animals are able to locomote effectively over a wide range of temperatures despite low temperature reducing the power output of their muscles. It has been suggested that animals recruit more muscle fibres and faster fibre types to compensate for the reduced power output at low temperature, but it is not known how much low temperature actually reduces power output in vivo. 'Optimized' work-loop measurements, which are thought to approximate muscle function in vivo, give a Q(10) of approximately 2.3 for power output of scup (Stenotomus chrysops) red muscle between 10 degrees C and 20 degrees C. However, because of the slower muscle relaxation rate at low temperatures, 'optimizing' work loops requires stimulation duration to be reduced and oscillation frequency to be decreased to obtain maximal power output. Previous fish swimming experiments suggest that similar optimization may not occur in vivo, and this may have substantial consequences in terms of muscle power generation and swimming at low temperatures. To assess more precisely the effects of temperature on muscle performance and swimming, in the present study, we measured the length change, stimulation duration and stimulus phase of red muscle at various positions along scup swimming at several speeds at 10 degrees C and 20 degrees C. In a companion study, we determined the effects of temperature on in vivo power generation by driving muscle fibre bundles through these in vivo length changes and stimulation conditions, and measuring the resulting power output. The most significant finding from the present study is that, despite large differences in the in vivo parameters along the length of the fish (a decrease in stimulus duration, an increase in strain and a negative shift in phase) moving posteriorly, these parameters do not change with temperature. Thus, although the nervous system of fish could, in theory, compensate for slow muscle relaxation by greatly reducing muscle stimulation duration at low temperatures, it does not. This lack of compensation to low temperatures might reflect a potential limitation in neural control.