Morphometrics of the avian lung. 3. The structural design of the passerine lung

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The lungs of 46 adult, wild passerine birds belonging to 8 species have been analysed morphometrically, both by light and electron microscope. Volumes were estimated by point counting, surface areas by intersection counting, and thicknesses by intercept length measurements. The mean values obtained for these passerine species appertaining to both lungs together were: volume of the lung per kilogram body weight 25 cm3/kg, volume density of the exchange tissue 52% surface area of the 0 blood-gas (tissue) barrier per gram body weight 47.48 cm2/g, surface density of the blood-gas (tissue) barrier 323.8 mm2/mm3, capillary loading 1.15 cm3/m2, harmonic mean thickness of the blood-gas 0772 (tissue) barrier 0.127 μm, arithmetic mean thickness 0.745 μm and the total morphometric pulmonary diffusion capacity 7.08 ml O2/min/mm Hg/kg. These values indicate that the passerine lung is specially well adapted for gas exchange, mainly by having a thin and extensive blood-gas (tissue) barrier, in response to the high oxygen demand by this group of bird.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-307
Number of pages17
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • Bird
  • Diffusing capacity of lung
  • Lung
  • Morphometry
  • Oxygen demand
  • Passerine species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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