Digestive state influences the heart rate hysteresis and rates of heat exchange in the varanid lizard varanus rosenbergi
Clark, TD and Butler, PJ and Frappell, P, Digestive state influences the heart rate hysteresis and rates of heat exchange in the varanid lizard varanus rosenbergi, Journal of Experimental Biology, 208, (12) pp. 2269-2276. ISSN 0022-0949 (2005) [Refereed Article]
To maximize the period where body temperature (Tb) exceeds ambient temperature (Ta), many reptiles have been reported to regulate heart rate (fH) and peripheral blood flow so that the rate of heat gain in a warming environment occurs more rapidly than the rate of heat loss in a cooling environment. It may be hypothesized that the rate of cooling, particularly at relatively cool Tbs, would be further reduced during postprandial periods when specific dynamic action (SDA) increases endogenous heat production (i.e. the heat increment of feeding). Furthermore, it may also be hypothesized that the increased perfusion of the gastrointestinal organs that occurs during digestion may limit peripheral blood flow and thus compromise the rate of heating. Finally, if the changes in fh are solely for the purpose of thermoregulation, there should be no associated changes in energy demand and, consequently, no hysteresis in the rate of oxygen consumption (V(O2)). To test these hypotheses, seven individual Varanus rosenbergi were heated and cooled between 19 degrees C and 35 degrees C following at least 8 days fasting and then approximately 25 h after consumption of a meal (mean 10% of fasted body mass). For a given Tb between the range of 19-35 degrees C, fh of fasting lizards was higher during heating than during cooling. Postprandial lizards also displayed a hysteresis in fh, although the magnitude was reduced in comparison with that of fasting lizards as a result of a higher fh during cooling in postprandial animals. Both for fasting and postprandial lizards, there was no hysteresis in V(O2) at any Tb throughout the range although, as a result of SDA, postprandial animals displayed a significantly higher V(O2) than fasting animals both during heating and during cooling at Tbs above 24 degrees C. The values of fh during heating at a given Tb were the same for fasting and postprandial animals, which, in combination with a slower rate of heating in postprandial animals, suggests that a prioritization of blood flow to the gastrointestinal organs during digestion is occurring at the expense of higher rates of heating. Additionally, postprandial lizards took longer to cool at Tbs below 23 degrees C, suggesting that the endogenous heat produced during digestion temporarily enhances thermoregulatory ability at lower temperatures, which would presumably assist V. rosenbergi during cooler periods in the natural environment by augmenting temperature-dependent physiological processes.