The telltale heart: A non-invasive method to determine the energy expenditure of incubating Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo carbo.

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) Science Article 31


We studied the energetics of incubating Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo carbo via heart rate and respirometric measurements performed in captive and free-living animals. We applied a modified heart beat frequency (HR) monitor built for use in human athletics as well as respirometry for measurements in four captive-bred cormorants at Neumuenster Zoo, Germany. The obtained data were used to model the relationship between HR and metabolic rate (MR). The resulting correlations were MR (W kg-0.723) = 4.76 + 0.01HR (bpm) during daytime and MR (W kg-0.723) = 2.33 + 0.03HR (bpm) at night. Furthermore, the heart beat frequencies of 5 free-living, incubating cormorants at the Chausey Islands, France, were measured acoustically using artificial eggs while the activities at the nest were observed via video. HR-MR models established in the captive animals were used to determine the activity-dependent energy expenditure in these free-living cormorants.

Storch S., Gremillet D. & Culik B.M., ARDEA 87 (2): 207-215.

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