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Data from: Patterns of activity and body temperature of Aldabra giant tortoises in relation to environmental temperature

Citation

Falcón, Wilfredo et al. (2018), Data from: Patterns of activity and body temperature of Aldabra giant tortoises in relation to environmental temperature, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.b4v22

Abstract

We studied the temperature relations of wild and zoo Aldabra giant tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea) focusing on: 1) the relationship between environmental temperature and tortoise activity patterns (n=8 wild individuals), and 2) on tortoise body temperature fluctuations, including how their core and external body temperatures vary in relation to different environmental temperature ranges (seasons; n=4 wild, and n=5 zoo individuals). In addition, we surveyed the literature to review the effect of body mass on core body temperature range in relation to environmental temperature in the Testudinidae. Diurnal activity of tortoises was bimodally distributed, and influenced by environmental temperature and season. The mean air temperature at which activity is maximised was 27.9˚C, with a range of 25.8–31.7˚C. Furthermore, air temperature predicted changes in the core body temperature better than did mass, and only during the coldest trial did tortoises with higher mass show more stable temperatures. Our results, together with the overall Testudinidae overview, suggest that, once variation in environmental temperature has been taken into account, there is little effect of mass on the temperature stability of tortoises. Moreover, the presence of thermal inertia in an individual tortoise depends on the environmental temperatures, and we found no evidence for inertial homeothermy. Finally, patterns of core and external body temperatures in comparison to environmental temperatures suggest that Aldabra giant tortoises act as mixed conformer-regulators. Our study provides a baseline to manage the thermal environment of wild and rewilded populations of an important island ecosystem engineer species in an era of climate change.

Usage Notes

Location

Aldabra Atoll