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ISSN: 2155-6180

Journal of Biometrics & Biostatistics
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  • Research Article   
  • J Biom Biostat 2017, Vol 8(5): 373
  • DOI: 10.4172/2155-6180.1000373

Human and Hummingbird Hemoglobin Concentrations and MetabolicRhythms at Altitude Determined with Statistical Modeling

Clifford Qualls1, Christopher C Witt2, Nicholas R Wilson2, Sebastian Restrepo Cruz2, Emil Bautista3 and Otto Appenzeller4*
1Department of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of New Mexico, USA
2Department of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology, The University of New Mexico, USA
3Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI), , Surco, Lima, Peru
4New Mexico Health Enhancement and Marathon Clinics Research Foundation, , Albuquerque NM 87122, USA
*Corresponding Author : Otto Appenzeller, New Mexico Health Enhancement and Marathon Clinics Research Foundation, USA, Tel: 505 822 0269, Email: [email protected]

Received Date: Sep 22, 2017 / Accepted Date: Oct 14, 2017 / Published Date: Oct 23, 2017


Hummingbirds show remarkable adaptation to high altitude hypoxia whereas humans are imperfectly adapted to high altitude living.

Here we compare hemoglobin levels and metabolism derived from growth rhythms in hummingbirds and humans. To compare growth rhythms, we analyzed growth intervals in hummingbird tail feathers and human growing tissues such as hair.

We find that hemoglobin levels were higher in hummingbirds (P<0.001) than in humans, but the influence of altitude on hemoglobin was more pronounced in humans (slope, steeper with increasing altitude, P<0.001), and levels for both taxa converge at extreme elevations.

The power spectra from growth intervals in growing tissues which reflect metabolism in both species, were not different (low frequency/high frequency ratios (LF/HF) in the two species) P>0.22 NS.

In a comparison among hummingbird species, we found no evidence that metabolic demands (based on power spectra derived from growth intervals) changed with increasing altitude, even while body mass increased significantly (P>0.02). Our index of hummingbird metabolism (spectral LF/HF ratio) was consistent with estimates based on allometric conversion of mass for humans.

These results support the notion that hummingbird hemoglobin levels and metabolism are useful models for biologically adaptive strategies to life at high altitude. Humans and hummingbirds exhibit convergent phenotypes for hemoglobin concentration at extreme altitudes. However, whereas human health suffers above 2500 m, hummingbirds are evolutionarily successful and physiologically robust at very high altitudes. Such different outcomes may be in part due to ancient versus recent high altitude colonization, but may also reflect greater altitude-specialization of hummingbird species, fundamental differences between avian and mammalian respiratory systems, or the very different demands of thermoregulation in hummingbirds versus humans.

Keywords: Hemoglobin; Human; Hummingbirds; Evolution; Thermoregulation; Statistical modeling; High altitude

Citation: Qualls C, Witt CC, Wilson NR, Cruz SR, Bautista E, et al. (2017) Human and Hummingbird Hemoglobin Concentrations and Metabolic Rhythms at Altitude Determined with Statistical Modeling. J Biom Biostat 8:373. Doi: 10.4172/2155-6180.1000373

Copyright: © 2017 Qualls C, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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