Document Detail

Heterothermy of free-living Arabian sand gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa marica) in a desert environment.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  16574802     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
To test whether free-living desert ungulates employ heterothermy to reduce water loss, we measured core body temperature (T(b)) of six free-living Arabian sand gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa marica), a small desert antelope (12-20 kg) that lives in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, where air temperature (T(a)) often exceeds 40 degrees C. We found that the mean daily T(b) varied by 2.6+/-0.8 degrees C during summer (June-July) and 1.7+/-0.3 degrees C during winter (January-February); over both seasons, mean T(b) was 39.5+/-0.2 degrees C. During the day, in summer, T(b) increased by more than 2 degrees C when T(a)>T(b) and declined at night when T(a)<T(b), suggesting that gazelles stored heat during day and dissipated it by non evaporative means during night. The minimum T(b) was lower in summer (38.2+/-0.5 degrees C) than in winter (38.6+/-0.3 degrees C) despite the fact that the gradient between T(b) and T(a) was larger and solar radiation was lower in winter. Correlation between daily variation of T(b) and mean, maximal T(a)s were significant in summer, but not in winter. To dissipate the amount of heat stored by gazelles would require an evaporative water loss of 33.5 ml H(2)O day(-1) in summer and 23.2 ml H(2)O day(-1) in winter. We tested whether the amplitude of daily variation in T(b) was influenced by the level of water provided to six captive sand gazelles maintained under controlled conditions in summer. The daily amplitude of T(b) was increased by 1.4 degrees C when gazelles were denied drinking water but supplied with pre-formed water in food, and by 1.1 degrees C when they were denied both water and food. Gazelles denied only drinking water increased the amplitude of variation in T(b), whereas when denied both food and water, they seemed to undergo a dehydration-hyperthermia, with increased mean and maximal T(b) values but no decrease of minimal T(b). Free-ranging and captive gazelles surviving on pre-formed water in natural food used heterothermy during summer with no elevation of plasma osmolality, indicating that they were not in a state of dehydration. Our data on variation in T(b) of gazelles provide an example of a small desert ungulate employing heterothermy to reduce evaporative water loss that would otherwise be required to maintain normothermic T(b).
Stéphane Ostrowski; Joseph B Williams
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of experimental biology     Volume:  209     ISSN:  0022-0949     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Exp. Biol.     Publication Date:  2006 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2006-03-31     Completed Date:  2006-07-13     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0243705     Medline TA:  J Exp Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1421-9     Citation Subset:  IM    
National Wildlife Research Center, Taif, Saudi Arabia.
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MeSH Terms
Antelopes / physiology*
Behavior, Animal
Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
Desert Climate*
Reg. No./Substance:

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