The Lake Titicaca Frog has numerous physiological adaptations to its low oxygen aquatic environment. It has a higher red blood cell count than any other reported frog (Hutchison et al. 1976). Telmatobius culeus has the second smallest erythrocyte volume of any amphibian (Telmatobius pefauri is the smallest, Ruiz et al. 1983). Small erythrocytes facilitate the flow of oxygen from the environment to the cells (Ruiz et al. 1983). The metabolic rate of T. culeus is lower than any frog measured when submerged or when breathing air (14.1 ml O2 * g -1 * h-1 at 10°C underwater and at low altitude and 23.1 ml O2 * g -1 * h-1 at 10°C breathing air and at low altitude) (Hutchison et al 1976). The metabolic efficiency and respiratory adaptations of T. culeus allow it to survive highly hypoxic conditions for several hours. However, some of these traits are affected by acclimatization to lower elevations, which indicates that they are at least partially plastic.
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