Body temperature and time of day both affect nocturnal lizard performance: An experimental investigation

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Thermal Biology, 2020, 93
Issue Date:
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© 2020 The locomotor performance of reptiles is profoundly influenced by temperature, but little is known about how the time of day when the animal is usually active may influence performance. Time of day may be particularly relevant for studies on nocturnal reptiles that thermoregulate by day, but are active at night when ambient temperatures are cooler. If selection favours individuals that match their performance to activity times, then nocturnal species should perform better during the night, when they are normally active, than during the day. To test this hypothesis, we investigated how the time of day and body temperature affected the locomotor performance of adult females of the velvet gecko (Amalosia lesueurii). We measured the sprint speeds, running speeds and number of stops of 43 adult females at four different body temperatures (20, 25, 30 and 35 °C) during the day and at night. At night, sprint speeds were higher at 20 and 35 °C but sprint speeds were similar at 25 and 30 °C. By day, sprint speed increased with body temperature, peaking at 30 °C, before declining at 35 °C. However, gecko speeds over 1 m was higher at night at all four test temperatures than by day. Number of stops showed broadly similar patterns and females stopped almost twice as often on the racetrack during the day than they did at night. Furthermore, the thermal breadth of performance differed depending on when geckos were tested. Our results demonstrate that both body temperature and the time of day affects the behaviour and locomotor performance of female velvet geckos, with geckos running faster at night, the time of day when they are usually active. This study adds to evidence that both body temperature and the time of day are crucial for estimating the performance of ectotherms and evaluations and predictions of their vulnerability to climate warming should consider the context of laboratory experimental design.
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