To thermoconform or thermoregulate? An assessment of thermoregulation opportunities for the lizard Zootoca vivipara in the subarctic

Gábor Herczeg, Tibor Kovács, Attila Hettyey, Juha Merilä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The general model of thermoregulation of ectotherms predicts that thermally challenging environments select for evolution of thermoconformity. Studies of reptilian thermoregulation at climatic extremes are rare and, in the subarctic zone, completely lacking. Thermal characteristics of the habitat of the lizard Zootoca vivipara were studied in the subarctic zone, at the northern margin of its distribution, where lizard density was already extremely low. We found that, during the activity period, the preferred body temperatures of Z. vivipara were not available for a thermoconformer, but available for 7 h for a thermoregulator in an average day. Therefore, thermoconformity is unbeneficial and accurate thermoregulation should be the appropriate strategy. We hypothesise that the extremely low lizard abundance at our subarctic study site is caused by the short activity season and the large daily temperature fluctuations, with night temperatures occasionally falling below zero even during the activity period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-490
Number of pages5
JournalPolar Biology
Volume26
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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