Impact of Temperature on Bite Force and Bite Endurance in the Leopard Iguana (Diplolaemus leopardinus) in the Andes Mountains

May 19, 2020 | Biology

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Nadia Vicenzi, Alejandro Laspiur, Paola L. Sassi, Ruben Massarelli, John Krenz, and Nora R. Ibargüengoytia

In ectotherms, temperature exerts a strong influence on the performance of physiological and ecological traits. One approach to understand the impact of rising temperatures on animals and their ability to cope with climate change is to quantify variation in thermal-sensitive traits. Here, we examined the thermal biology, the temperature dependence and the thermal plasticity of bite force (endurance and magnitude) in Diplolaemus leopardinus, an aggressive and territorial lizard, endemic to Mendoza province, Argentina. Our results indicated that this lizard behaves like a moderate thermoregulator which uses the rocks of its environment as the main heat source. Bite endurance was not influenced by head morphometry and body temperature, whereas bite force was influenced by head length and jaw length, and exhibited thermal dependence. Before thermal acclimation treatments, the maximum bite force for D. leopardinus occured at the lowest body temperature and fell sharply with increasing body temperature. After acclimation treatments, lizards acclimated at higher temperatures exhibited greater bite force. Bite force showed phenotypic plasticity, which reveals that leopard iguanas are able to maintain (and even improve) their bite force under a rising-temperature scenario... Continue reading the article at the Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB) Blog.

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