Life in the suburbs: artificial heat source selection for nocturnal thermoregulation in a diurnally active tropical lizard

Amadi, NioKing; Belema, Robert; Obodo Chukwu, Harrison; Dendi, Daniele; Chidinma, Amuzie; Meek, Roger; Luiselli, Luca

The rapid expansion of urban environments invariably presents a novel series of pressures on wildlife due to changes in external environmental factors. In reptiles, any such changes in temperature are critical since thermoregulation is the key driver in the function of many physiological processes. How reptiles adapt to such changes may vary from those species that are impacted negatively to others that have the behavioural flexibility to exploit new conditions. In this paper we describe retreat site selection, movements and aspects of the thermal ecology of the African lizard Agama agama in urban environments of West Africa. In early evening lizards began movement from late-afternoon core activity areas and ascended the walls of houses for overnight retreats. A high proportion retreated to locations in groups under or on top of warm electrical panels. The thermal potential these panels offered was the attainment of body temperatures equal to or higher than the minimum preferred body temperature (PBT inline-formula≈ 36 inline-formulaC in A. agama) and hence increased physiological performance. The lizards that took advantage of the heat sources travelled further each day to and from diurnal activity areas than individuals that spent the night high on walls but not next to heat panels. There were both potential costs (enhanced predation pressures) and benefits (impacts on thermal ecology, retreat site selection) of this behaviour for lizards living in urban environments.

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Amadi, NioKing / Belema, Robert / Obodo Chukwu, Harrison / et al: Life in the suburbs: artificial heat source selection for nocturnal thermoregulation in a diurnally active tropical lizard. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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