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J Comp Physiol B. 2003 Apr;173(3):239-46. Epub 2003 Feb 19.

The influence of dehydration on the thermal preferences of the Western tiger snake, Notechis scutatus.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology and Centre for Native Animal Research, The University of Western Australia, 6009 Crawley, WA, Australia. mitchl@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

Abstract

Temperature selection in tiger snakes (Notechis scutatus) is strongly influenced by hydration state and this response varies between two distinct neighbouring populations on semi-arid Carnac Island and mainland wetland (Herdsman Lake). Fed and hydrated (control) Carnac Island snakes selected a preferred body temperature of 26.2+/-1.2 degrees C and an average maximum temperature of 32.5+/-0.5 degrees C in a photo-thermal gradient. Dehydrated Carnac Island snakes selected a significantly lower preferred body temperature (19.7+/-1.6 degrees C) and average maximum temperature (27.7+/-1.0 degrees C). Control Herdsman Lake snakes selected a preferred body temperature of 27.5+/-0.6 degrees C and an average maximum temperature of 33.3+/-0.4 degrees C. Dehydrated Herdsman Lake snakes selected a significantly lower preferred body temperature (23.3+/-1.1 degrees C) and a lower average maximum temperature (31.8+/-0.6 degrees C). Thermal depression (decreased preferred body and average maximum temperatures) in response to dehydration was greater for Carnac Island than Herdsman Lake snakes. As decreases in temperature and activity can reduce water loss, our laboratory data suggest that the survival of the relict population of tiger snakes on Carnac Island is associated with thermoregulatory modifications, which may have the effect of enhancing water conservation in this waterless habitat.

PMID:
12743727
DOI:
10.1007/s00360-003-0328-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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