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You are here: Home / Associated publications / Belgian Journal of Zoology / Bibliographic References / Comparative physiology of heat production in rodents under increasing salinity : The effects of habits and habitat

Abraham Haim, Uri Shanas, and Michael Scantlebury (2005)

Comparative physiology of heat production in rodents under increasing salinity : The effects of habits and habitat


Small mammals inhabiting environments that are either seasonally or perpetually dry, such as Mediterranean or desert ecosystems respectively, commonly have physiological capabilities that enable them to deal with water shortage. We compared results of thermoregulatory responses of rodent species inhabiting different habitats and having varying activity periods, when salinity increases in their water source, as often Occurs in their natural habitats during the dry period. Experimental animals were maintained on a diet of dry soy-beans and an increased salinity of their water source (2\% agar gel), from 0.9\% to 3.5\% NaCl in mesic species and up to 7\% in xeric species. While desert species Could cope with high salinities in their water source, mesic species could not. Desert-adapted species depending on their preferred micro-habitats differ in their thermoregulatory responses. Rock dwellers, such as the golden spiny mouse Acomys russatus and the bushy tailed gerbil Sekeetamys calurus, reduce their resting metabolic rates (RMR) and increase nonshivering thermogenesis (NST) capacity in response to increasing salinity. In contrast, the deep burrowing fat jird Meriones crassus, increases RMR and only slightly increases NST-capacity. Our study suggests that species occupying different habitats vary their thermoregulatory capabilities, in relation to dehydration and increasing salinity in the water source. This may be a consequence of adaptation from the original ecosystem to the current environment in which a species inhabits.

nonshivering thermogenesis; resting metabolic rate; aridity; thermoregulation; kidney function
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology