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Chronobiol Int. 2009 Oct;26(7):1369-88. doi: 10.3109/07420520903412392.

Thermocyclic and photocyclic entrainment of circadian locomotor activity rhythms in sleepy lizards, Tiliqua rugosa.

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  • 1The University of Adelaide, South Australia. david.j.ellis@adelaide.edu.au


Australian sleepy lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) exhibit marked locomotor activity rhythms in the field and laboratory. Light-dark (LD) and temperature cycles (TCs) are considered important for the entrainment of circadian locomotor activity rhythms and for mediating seasonal adjustments in aspects of these rhythms, such as phase, amplitude, and activity pattern. The relative importance of 24 h LD and TCs in entraining the circadian locomotor activity rhythm in T. rugosa was examined in three experiments. In the first experiment, lizards were held under LD 12:12 and subjected to either a TC of 33:15 degrees C in phase with the LD cycle or a reversed TC positioned in antiphase to the LD cycle. Following LD 12:12, lizards were maintained under the same TCs but were subjected to DD. Activity was restricted to the thermophase in LD, irrespective of the lighting regime and during the period of DD that followed, suggesting entrainment by the TC. The amplitude of the TC was lowered by 8 degrees C to reduce the intensity and possible masking effect of the TC zeitgeber in subsequent experiments. In the second experiment, lizards were held under LD 12.5:11.5 and subjected to one of three treatments: constant 30 degrees C, normal TC (30:20 degrees C) in phase with the LD cycle, or reversed TC. Following LD, all lizards were subjected to DD and constant 30 degrees C. Post-entrainment free-run records revealed that LD cycles and TCs could both entrain the locomotor rhythms of T. rugosa. In LD, mean activity duration (alpha) of lizards in the normal TC group was considerably less than that in the constant 30 degrees C group. Mean alpha also increased between LD and DD in lizards in the normal TC group. Although there was large variation in the phasing of the rhythm in relation to the LD cycle in reversed TC lizards, TCs presented in phase with the LD cycle most accurately synchronized the rhythm to the photocycle. In the third experiment, lizards were held in DD at constant 30 degrees C before being subjected to a further period of DD and one of four treatments: normal TC (06:00 to 18:00 h thermophase), delayed TC (12:00 to 00:00 h thermophase), advanced TC (00:00 to 12:00 h thermophase), or control (no TC, constant 30 degrees C). While control lizards continued to free-run in DD at constant temperature, the locomotor activity rhythms of lizards subjected to TCs rapidly entrained to TCs, whether or not the TC was phase advanced or delayed by 6 h. There was no difference in the phase relationships of lizard activity rhythms to the onset of the thermophase among the normal, delayed, and advanced TC groups, suggesting equally strong entrainment to the TC in each group. The results of this experiment excluded the possibility that masking effects were responsible for the locomotor activity responses of lizards to TCs. The three experiments demonstrated that TCs are important for entraining circadian locomotor activity rhythms of T. rugosa, even when photic cues are conflicting or absent, and that an interaction between LD cycles and TCs most accurately synchronizes this rhythm.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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