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Type: Journal article
Title: Ontogenetic scaling of the gastrointestinal tract of a marsupial foregut fermenter, the western grey kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus melanops
Author: Munn, A.J.
Snelling, E.P.
Taggart, D.A.
Seymour, R.S.
Citation: Journal of Comparative Physiology B: biochemical, systemic, and environmental physiology, 2021; 191(2):371-383
Publisher: Springer Nature
Issue Date: 2021
ISSN: 0174-1578
Statement of
Adam J. Munn, Edward P. Snelling, David A. Taggart, Roger S. Seymour
Abstract: As an animal grows, the relative sizes of their organs may grow proportionately or disproportionately, depending on ontogenetic changes in function. If organ growth is proportional (isometric), then the exponent of the scaling equation is 1.0. Relative decreases or increases in size result in exponents less than 1 (hypoallometric) or greater than 1 (hyperallometric). Thus, the empirical exponent can indicate potential changes in function. The entire gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of the foregut-fermenting western grey kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus melanops exhibited biphasic allometry across five orders of magnitude body mass (M(b); 52.0 g–70.5 kg). Prior to weaning at around 12 kg M(b), the entire empty GIT mass scaled with hyperallometry (M(b)¹·¹³), shifting to hypoallometry (M(b)⁰·⁸⁰) post-weaning. In addition, there were varying patterns of hyper-, hypo-, and isometric scaling for select GIT organs, with several displaying phase shifts associated with major life-history events, specifically around exit from the maternal pouch and around weaning. Mass of the kangaroo forestomach, the main fermentation site, scaled with hyperallometry (M(b)¹·¹⁶) before the stage of increased vegetation intake, and possibly after this stage (M(b)¹·¹²; P = 0.07), accompanied by a higher scaling factor (elevation of the curve) probably associated with more muscle for processing fibrous vegetation. The acid hindstomach mass showed hyperallometry (M(b)¹·¹⁵) before weaning, but hypoallometry (M(b) ⁰·⁵⁸) post-weaning, presumably associated with decreasing intake of milk. Small intestine mass and length each scaled isometrically throughout ontogeny, with no discernible breakpoints at any life-history stage. The caecum and colon mass were steeply hyperallometric early in-pouch life (M(b)¹·⁵⁹⁻¯¹·⁶⁶), when the young were ectothermic, hairless, and supported solely by milk. After around 295 g M(b), caecum mass remained hyperallometric (Mb¹·¹⁴), possibly supporting its early development as a nidus for microbial populations to provide for secondary fermentation in this organ after the young transition from milk to vegetation.
Keywords: Scaling; gastrointestinal; marsupial; kangaroo; ontogeny; heterochrony
Rights: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH, DE part of Springer Nature 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s00360-020-01333-x
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Appears in Collections:Animal and Veterinary Sciences publications
Aurora harvest 4

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