Keeping cool in the heat: Behavioral thermoregulation and body temperature patterns in wild vervet monkeys

Richard McFarland, Louise Barrett, Mary Ann Costello, Andrea Fuller, Robyn S. Hetem, Shane K. Maloney, Duncan Mitchell, Peter S. Henzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Climate change is having a significant impact on biodiversity and increasing attention is therefore being devoted to identifying the behavioral strategies that a species uses to cope with climatic stress. We explore how wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) respond to heat stress, and how behavioral adaptations are used to regulate body temperature. Materials and methods: We implanted wild vervet monkeys with temperature-sensitive data loggers and related the body temperature rhythms of these animals to their use of thermoregulatory behaviors. Results: Environmental temperature had a positive effect on the mean, minima and maxima of daily body temperatures. Environmental temperature had a positive effect on the amount of time that vervet monkeys spent in the shade, and animals that spent more time in the shade had lower body temperature maxima. Drinking water did not have a proximate effect on body temperature, most likely a consequence of their regular access to drinking water. Body temperatures were observed to decrease after swimming events, but tended to return to pre-swim temperatures within 1 hr, suggesting a limited thermal benefit of this behavior. Conclusions: Our data support the view that vervet monkeys cope well in the heat, and use behavior as a means to aid thermoregulation. The ability of primates to be flexible in their use of thermoregulatory behaviors can contribute positively to their capacity to cope with environmental variability. However, given its broad effect on plant productivity and habitat loss, climate change is a major threat to species' biogeographical distribution and survival.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • behavior
  • body temperature
  • climate
  • thermoregulation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Keeping cool in the heat: Behavioral thermoregulation and body temperature patterns in wild vervet monkeys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this