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Small increases in ambient temperature reduce offspring body mass in an equatorial mammal

Monil Khera, Kevin Arbuckle Orcid Logo, Francis Mwanguhya, Solomon Kyabulima, Kenneth Mwesige, Robert Businge, Jonathan D. Blount Orcid Logo, Michael A. Cant Orcid Logo, Hazel Nichols Orcid Logo

Biology Letters, Volume: 19, Issue: 11

Swansea University Authors: Monil Khera, Kevin Arbuckle Orcid Logo, Hazel Nichols Orcid Logo

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DOI (Published version): 10.1098/rsbl.2023.0328

Abstract

Human-induced climate change is leading to temperature rises, along with increases in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves. Many animals respond to high temperatures through behavioural thermoregulation, for example by resting in the shade, but this may impose opportunity costs by reducing forag...

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Published in: Biology Letters
ISSN: 1744-957X
Published: The Royal Society 2023
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa65082
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Abstract: Human-induced climate change is leading to temperature rises, along with increases in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves. Many animals respond to high temperatures through behavioural thermoregulation, for example by resting in the shade, but this may impose opportunity costs by reducing foraging time (therefore energy supply), and so may be most effective when food is abundant. However, the heat dissipation limit (HDL) theory proposes that even when energy supply is plentiful, high temperatures can still have negative effects. This is because dissipating excess heat becomes harder, which limits processes that generate heat such as lactation. We tested predictions from HDL on a wild, equatorial population of banded mongooses (Mungos mungo). In support of the HDL theory, higher ambient temperatures led to lighter pups, and increasing food availability made little difference to pup weight under hotter conditions. This suggests that direct physiological constraints rather than opportunity costs of behavioural thermoregulation explain the negative impact of high temperatures on pup growth. Our results indicate that climate change may be particularly important for equatorial species, which often experience high temperatures year-round so cannot time reproduction to coincide with cooler conditions.
Keywords: Heat dissipation limit theory, climate change, equatorial, thermoregulation, banded mongoose, cooperative breeder
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Funders: This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant no. NE/N011171/1) and the European Research Council (grant no. 309249). H.J.N. was supported by an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship.
Issue: 11