Can Reptile Embryos Influence Their Own Rates of Heating and Cooling?

Wei Guo Du, Ming-Chung Tu, Rajkumar S. Radder, Richard Shine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous investigations have assumed that embryos lack the capacity of physiological thermoregulation until they are large enough for their own metabolic heat production to influence nest temperatures. Contrary to intuition, reptile embryos may be capable of physiological thermoregulation. In our experiments, egg-sized objects (dead or infertile eggs, water-filled balloons, glass jars) cooled down more rapidly than they heated up, whereas live snake eggs heated more rapidly than they cooled. In a nest with diel thermal fluctuations, that hysteresis could increase the embryo's effective incubation temperature. The mechanisms for controlling rates of thermal exchange are unclear, but may involve facultative adjustment of blood flow. Heart rates of snake embryos were higher during cooling than during heating, the opposite pattern to that seen in adult reptiles. Our data challenge the view of reptile eggs as thermally passive, and suggest that embryos of reptile species with large eggs can influence their own rates of heating and cooling.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere67095
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun 24

Fingerprint

Reptiles
Heating
reptiles
embryo (animal)
Embryonic Structures
cooling
Eggs
Cooling
heat
Snakes
Body Temperature Regulation
thermoregulation
Balloons
snakes
Hot Temperature
nests
Hysteresis
Blood
Social Adjustment
Intuition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Can Reptile Embryos Influence Their Own Rates of Heating and Cooling? / Du, Wei Guo; Tu, Ming-Chung; Radder, Rajkumar S.; Shine, Richard.

In: PLoS ONE, Vol. 8, No. 6, e67095, 24.06.2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Du, Wei Guo ; Tu, Ming-Chung ; Radder, Rajkumar S. ; Shine, Richard. / Can Reptile Embryos Influence Their Own Rates of Heating and Cooling?. In: PLoS ONE. 2013 ; Vol. 8, No. 6.
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