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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2006 Jul-Aug;79(4):745-53. Epub 2006 May 11.

Daily patterns of metabolic rate among New Zealand lizards (Reptilia: Lacertilia: Diplodactylidae and Scincidae).

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School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.


In addition to the effects of temperature fluctuations on metabolic rate, entrained endogenous rhythms in metabolism, which are independent of temperature fluctuations, may be important in overall energy metabolism in ectotherms. Daily entrained endogenous rhythms may serve as energy-conserving mechanisms during an animal's active or inactive phase. However, because nocturnal lizards often take advantage of thermal opportunities during the photophase (light), their daily metabolic rhythms may be less pronounced than those of diurnal species. We measured the rate of oxygen consumption (VO(2)) as an index of metabolic rate of eight temperate lizard species (four nocturnal, three diurnal, and one crepuscular/diurnal; n = 7-14) over 24 h at 13 degrees C and in constant darkness to test whether daily patterns (including amplitude, magnitude, and time of peak VO(2)) of metabolic rate in lizards differ with activity period. We also tested for phylogenetic differences in metabolic rate between skinks and geckos. Three daily patterns were evident: 24-h cycle, 12-h cycle, or no daily cycle. The skink Cyclodina aenea has a 12-h crepuscular pattern of oxygen consumption. In four other species, VO(2) increased with, or in anticipation of, the active part of the day, but three species had rhythms offset from their active phase. Although not correlated with activity period or phylogeny, amplitude of VO(2) may be correlated with whether a species is temperate or tropical. In conclusion, the metabolic rate of many species does not always correlate with the recorded activity period. The dichotomy of ecology and physiology may be clarified by more in-depth studies of species behaviors and activity periods.

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