Publication Details

Buttemer, W. A., Bech, C. & Chappell, M. A. (2010). Citrate synthase activity does not account for age-related differences in maximum aerobic performance in House Sparrows (Passer domesticus). Australian Zoologist, 35 (2), 378-382.


We measured basal (BMR) and peak metabolic rates (PMR) in juvenile and adult House Sparrows. Juvenile birds had significantly higher BMR, but lower PMR than adult birds, despite having statistically indistinguishable body masses. We then evaluated the relation between PMR and masses of central and peripheral organs and found that pectoral muscle mass best correlated with PMR in both groups, accounting for about 35% of the variation in PMR. Because citrate synthase (CS) has such major importance in affecting the first committed step in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, we characterized CS activity levels In extracted muscles to see if this better explained age-related differences in peak aerobic performance. Surprisingly, juvenile sparrows had significantly higher CS activity levels than adults (197.8 vs. 179.0 μM g-1 min -1, respectively).This higher enzyme activity in juveniles was completely offset by their significantly smaller proportion of flight musculature relative to body mass (17.7 % in adults vs. 15.3% in juveniles). Consequently, ontogenetic changes in relative sizes of organs best accounts for agerelated differences in peak metabolic rate.