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Type: Journal article
Title: Heart position in snakes: Response to "Phylogeny, ecology, and heart position in snakes"
Author: Lillywhite, H.
Seymour, R.
Citation: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 2011; 84(1):99-101
Publisher: Univ Chicago Press
Issue Date: 2011
ISSN: 1522-2152
Statement of
Harvey B. Lillywhite and Roger S. Seymour
Abstract: Here we comment on a recent article (Gartner et al. 2010) that addresses previous adaptive interpretations of heart position in the context of gravity effects on blood circulation of snakes. The authors used phylogenetically based statistical methods and concluded that both habitat and phylogeny influence heart position, which they contend is relatively more posterior in arboreal compared to terrestrial species. Their result is based on measurements of heart position relative to snout-vent length, rather than total body length as in previous studies. However, gravity acts on the total length of the arterial-venous vasculature, and caudal segments of continuous blood columns cannot be ignored. Arboreal snakes have relatively long tails; therefore anterior hearts appear to be more “posterior” when the position is described relative to a shorter trunk. There is no physiologically valid explanation for the alleged posterior heart position in arboreal snakes, and multiple lines of published evidence to the contrary are ignored. The authors secondarily evaluated their data set with estimates for total body length based on measurements from other taxa. They found no statistical difference between heart position in arboreal versus terrestrial species, yet their article implied otherwise. Gartner et al. (2010) contrasted “aquatic” and terrestrial species throughout their paper, and they claimed there is no correlation between heart position and habitat among “aquatic and terrestrial species.” But they did not include any aquatic species in their data set. Therefore, the article confuses rather than promotes understanding of cardiovascular adaptation to gravity.
Keywords: Heart; Animals; Snakes; Linear Models; Ecosystem; Adaptation, Physiological; Phylogeny; Gravitation
Rights: © 2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
RMID: 0020102570
DOI: 10.1086/658082
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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