Are lizards sensitive to anomalous seasonal temperatures? Long-term thermobiological variability in a subtropical species

Autoři: André Vicente Liz aff001;  Vinicius Santos aff001;  Talita Ribeiro aff002;  Murilo Guimarães aff001;  Laura Verrastro aff001
Působiště autorů: Programa de Pós–Graduação em Biologia Animal, Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil aff001;  Programa de Pós–Graduação em Ecologia, Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article


Alterations in thermal niches have been widely associated with the Anthropocene erosion of reptiles’ diversity. They entail potential physiological constraints for organisms’ performance, which can lead to activity restrictions and impact fitness and demography. Reptiles are ectotherms which rely on seasonal periodicity to maximize the performance of biological functions. Despite it, the ecological implications of shifts in local temperatures are barely explored at the seasonal scale. This study aims to assess how changes in air temperature and substrate temperature affect the activity, body temperature (Tb) and thermoregulation patterns of the sand lizard, Liolaemus arambarensis (an endangered, microendemic species from southern Brazil), throughout a four-year period. Field surveys were conducted monthly on a restricted population in a sand-dune habitat. The annual fluctuations of the seasonal temperatures led to significant changes in the activity and Tb of L. arambarensis and shaped thermoregulation trends, suggesting biological plasticity as a key factor in the face of such variability. Lizards tended to maintain seasonal Tb in mild and harsh seasons through increased warming/cooling efforts. Anomalous winter conditions seemed especially critical for individual performance due to their apparent high impact favouring/constraining activity. Activity and thermoregulation were inhibited in frigid winters, probably due to a vulnerable physiology to intense cold spells determined by higher preferred body temperatures than Tb. Our results warn of a complex sensitivity in lizards to anomalous seasonal temperatures, which are potentially enhanced by climate change. The current work highlights the importance of multiannual biomonitoring to disentangle long-term responses in the thermal biology of reptiles and, thereby, to integrate conservation needs in the scope of global change.

Klíčová slova:

Body temperature – Foraging – Lizards – Reptiles – Seasons – Spring – Winter – Reptile biology


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