The effect of dehydration on the distribution of water in the bodies of two species of desert kangaroos, the red kangaroo Megaleia rufa and the euro Macropus robustus, has been examined. The volumes of various body-fluid compartments were determined in normally hydrated animals and then after the kangaroos had been dehydrated until body weight declined to 80% of the initial weight. The fluid compartments examined were total body water, plasma volume, intracellular volume (cellular and gut water), and extracellular volume. Both species were camel-like in their response to dehydration in that plasma volume was maintained in both species, falling by only 8.3% in red kangaroos and 7.4% in euros. The pattern of water loss from other compartments differed between species, particularly gut water loss. This compartment, which includes the large rumenlike fore stomach, contributed 56% of the total water loss of red kangaroos but only 22% of the loss from euros. The ecological implications of the preferential maintenance of gut water by the sedentary, cave-dwelling euros have been discussed.
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