Seasonal shifts in body temperature and use of microhabitats by Galapagos land iguanas ( Conolophus pallidus)

K. Christian, C.R. Tracey, W.P. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Seasonal differences in the body temperatures (Tb) of free—ranging Galapagos land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) were detected by temperature sensitive telemetry transmitters. Midday Tb's of iguanas average 4.4°C lower in the Garua (cool) season than in the Hot season. Measured Tb's and those predicted from biophysical models permitted the following conclusions: (1) lower Tb's during the Garua season represent an active shift in thermoregulation by the iguanas rather than a passive result of a cooler season; (2) the average midday Tselected by the iguanas in either season is the Tb that allows maintenance of a constant Tb for the longest possible portion of the day; (3) by exploiting the warmer microclimate created by a cliff face, the iguanas are able to maintain a constant Tb for a full hour longer than they could elsewhere in their home range. Census data demonstrated that the iguanas exploited the warmer microclimate created by the cliff extensively during the Garua season, and the cliff face was visited by the iguanas relatively infrequently during the Hot season. Thus, the exploitation of the microclimate created by the cliff results in seasonal differences in the pattern of space utilization within the home ranges of the iguanas. Within the Garua season the iguanas moved away from the cliff more often on sunny days than during cloudy days. It is concluded that the physical environment is an important determinant of patterns of space utilization both within and between seasons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-468
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes


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