Thermoregulation in three southern African bat species inhabiting a hot, semi-arid environment

Abstract:

Bats inhabiting arid, subtropical environments face diverse challenges related to energy and water balance. First, they may have to conserve water and energy during cool, dry winters when water is scarce and insect availability reduced. Second, during hot summers when air temperature may routinely exceed body temperature, bats may need to avoid both hyperthermia and dehydration. A common response to the energetically challenging winter period in temperate, subtropical and tropical species is heterothermy (i.e. torpor and hibernation). Despite evidence suggesting that heterothermy is of major significance in the energy balance of tropical and subtropical bats, its occurrence in southern African species especially those in semi-arid subtropical regions have received relatively little attention. Moreover, the physiological and thermoregulatory responses of bats to high air temperatures (Ta) are relatively poorly known. The goal of my project was to investigate various seasonal physiological challenges imposed on bats in an arid, sub-tropical climate. I investigated the occurrence of winter heterothermy in Nycteris thebaica (Nycteridae) in the Limpopo Valley. Skin temperatures (Tskin) were measured using temperature-sensitive transmitters, and roost temperatures (Troost) were recorded using miniature temperature loggers. N. thebaica used multiple roosting sites, including a hollow baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) and several caves, and exhibited only moderate heterothermy. Tskin was maintained around normothermic levels, with differences of 3-9°C (7.5±1.7°C) between overall maximum and minimum Tbs. A minimum Tskin of 28.4°C occurred at Troost = 23.8°C, and patterns of thermoregulation did not appear to be influenced by prevailing weather conditions. Roost temperatures did not decrease below 10°C, and averaged 21.2±2.8°C and 23.3±2.9°C respectively. The lack of pronounced heterothermy in N. thebaica is surprising, particularly in view of the daily torpor cycles observed in many insectivorous bat species. I also investigated the physiological responses of three sympatric bat species during summer using an open-flow respirometry system to measure resting metabolic rates (RMR) and evaporative water loss (EWL) over a range of Tas ~ 10-42°C, with body temperatures (Tb) simultaneously recorded via temperature-sensitive passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Basal metabolic rates for Nycteris thebaica and Taphozous mauritianus were 8.9±2.7mW.g-1 and 6.6±2.2mW.g-1 respectively, falling within the 95% prediction intervals for bat BMR, whereas the value for Sauromys petrophilus (3.4±0.6mW.g-1) fell below the lower 95% prediction interval. Maximum EWL for N. thebaica, T. mauritianus and S. petrophilus were 18.6±2.1mg.g-1.h-1 (Ta=39.4°C), 14.7±3.1mg.g-1.h-1 (Ta=41.9°C) and 23.7±7.4mg.g-1.h-1 (Ta=41.7°C) respectively. Maximum individual Tbs recorded were 46.5°C in N. thebaica (Ta=39.3°C), 44.9°C in T. mauritianus (Ta=41.8°C) and 46.5°C in S. petrophilus (Ta=41.7°C). Overall, I found that N. thebaica was the least heat tolerant species, with T. mauritianus and S. petrophilus being more heat tolerant. In the face of climate change, heat tolerance together with specific thermal properties of a given roost may play a major role in the ability of a species to persist in a hot, arid environment.
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APA

Dawn, C (2024). Thermoregulation in three southern African bat species inhabiting a hot, semi-arid environment. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/thermoregulation-in-three-southern-african-bat-species-inhabiting-a-hot-semi-arid-environment

MLA 8th

Dawn, Cory "Thermoregulation in three southern African bat species inhabiting a hot, semi-arid environment" Afribary. Afribary, 03 May. 2024, https://afribary.com/works/thermoregulation-in-three-southern-african-bat-species-inhabiting-a-hot-semi-arid-environment. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

MLA7

Dawn, Cory . "Thermoregulation in three southern African bat species inhabiting a hot, semi-arid environment". Afribary, Afribary, 03 May. 2024. Web. 17 Jun. 2024. < https://afribary.com/works/thermoregulation-in-three-southern-african-bat-species-inhabiting-a-hot-semi-arid-environment >.

Chicago

Dawn, Cory . "Thermoregulation in three southern African bat species inhabiting a hot, semi-arid environment" Afribary (2024). Accessed June 17, 2024. https://afribary.com/works/thermoregulation-in-three-southern-african-bat-species-inhabiting-a-hot-semi-arid-environment