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Naturwissenschaften. 2008 Jun;95(6):531-5. doi: 10.1007/s00114-008-0355-2. Epub 2008 Mar 20.

One year in the life of Bufo punctatus: annual patterns of body temperature in a free-ranging desert anuran.

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School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA.


The Mojave Desert is characterized by hot dry summers and cold winters. The red-spotted toad (Bufo (Anaxyrus) punctatus) is the predominant anuran species; yet little is known of their thermal histories and strategies to avoid temperature extremes. We measured body temperature (T(b)) in free-ranging adult toads across all four seasons of a year using implanted data loggers. There is marked individual variation in the temperatures experienced by these toads. As expected, toads generally escape extreme seasonal and diel temperature fluctuations. However, our data demonstrate a much wider estimated T(b) range than was previously assumed. Though often for short periods, red-spotted toads do experience T(b) as low as 3.1 degrees C and as high as 39.1 degrees C. All animals showed periods of prolonged thermal stability in cooler months and wider diel oscillations in warmer months. Red-spotted toad thermal history is likely a function of site choice; the exploitation of different refuges results in diverse thermal experiences. These data represent the most complete record of thermal experiences for a desert anuran and reveal greater extremes in body temperature than previously suggested.

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