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Selected body temperature, metabolic rate and activity pattern of the Australian fossorial skink, Saiphos equalis

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Fossorial and nocturnal lizards have limited opportunities to thermoregulate because they do not have access to basking opportunities, which has implications for their thermal physiology and metabolism. We measured substrate temperatures (Ts) in the field, and selected body temperatures (Tb) and metabolic rates in the laboratory, in fossorial skinks, Saiphos equalis, to quantify basic aspects of their thermal and metabolic physiology. Saiphos equalis selects relatively cool temperatures over a broad range (approximately 17–24 °C), suggesting that it does not thermoregulate precisely. Individuals of S. equalis are active more often at night than during the day. Rate of oxygen consumption was measured at 2 °C intervals from 10–30 °C in adult lizards. Metabolic rate increased as a function of temperature but there was no significant difference in VO2 over the preferred temperature range. Like many other fossorial lizards, S. equalis is nocturnal and selects relatively low body temperatures compared to heliothermic lizard species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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