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PLoS One. 2011 Apr 7;6(4):e18603. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018603.

Behavioural thermoregulatory tactics in lacustrine brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis.

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Centre de Recherche sur les Interactions Basins Versants-Ecosystèmes Aquatiques (RIVE), Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Canada.


The need to vary body temperature to optimize physiological processes can lead to thermoregulatory behaviours, particularly in ectotherms. Despite some evidence of within-population phenotypic variation in thermal behaviour, the occurrence of alternative tactics of this behaviour is rarely explicitly considered when studying natural populations. The main objective of this study was to determine whether different thermal tactics exist among individuals of the same population. We studied the behavioural thermoregulation of 33 adult brook charr in a stratified lake using thermo-sensitive radio transmitters that measured hourly individual temperature over one month. The observed behavioural thermoregulatory patterns were consistent between years and suggest the existence of four tactics: two "warm" tactics with both crepuscular and finer periodicities, with or without a diel periodicity, and two "cool" tactics, with or without a diel periodicity. Telemetry data support the above findings by showing that the different tactics are associated with different patterns of diel horizontal movements. Taken together, our results show a clear spatio-temporal segregation of individuals displaying different tactics, suggesting a reduction of niche overlap. To our knowledge, this is the first study showing the presence of behavioural thermoregulatory tactics in a vertebrate.

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