Development of respiratory function in the American locust Schistocerca americana: II. Within-instar effects

Kendra J. Greenlee, Jon Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


We hypothesized that oxygen delivery becomes more difficult for insects and tracheate arthropods as they progress throughout an intermolt period. During this time, body mass can more than double, yet the major tracheae and spiracles cannot be increased in size until molting. Also, tissue growth could compress air sacs used for convective gas exchange. To test these possibilities, we investigated the effect of within-instar growth on respiratory parameters, including CO2 emission rate, ventilation frequency, tidal volume and critical oxygen partial pressure (PO2) for first-, third- and fifth-instar juveniles and adults of the American locust Schistocerca americana. We found that late-stage grasshoppers tended to have 40% higher total CO 2 emission rates but 15% lower mass-specific CO2 emission rates and 35% higher ventilation frequencies than early-stage animals. Maximal tracheal system conductance decreased by 20-33% at the end of an instar, possibly due to compression of air sacs. In addition, animals nearing the end of an instar had higher critical PO2 values for abdominal pumping, and late-stage adults had 50% lower tidal volumes, suggesting that increases in tissue mass throughout an instar may hinder the ability of animals to breathe deeply. Late-stage adults had lower critical PO2 values for CO 2 emission, although this pattern was not found in any juvenile instars, indicating that late-stage juveniles compensate for decreased conductance by increasing ventilation frequency or the use of diffusive gas exchange. Our data suggest that late-stage arthropods are more vulnerable to hypoxia and may have reduced aerobic capacities and lower tissue P O2s than early-stage arthropods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-517
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Gas exchange
  • Hypoxia
  • Insect
  • Locust
  • Ontogeny
  • Schistocerca americana
  • Ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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