Heat tolerance of short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) in the field

Brice, Peter H., Grigg, Gordon C., Beard, Lyn A. and Donovan, Janette A. (2002) Heat tolerance of short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) in the field. Journal of Thermal Biology, 27 6: 449-457. doi:10.1016/S0306-4565(02)00015-3

Attached Files (Some files may be inaccessible until you login with your UQ eSpace credentials)
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
_Tachyglossus_ac.pdf _Tachyglossus_ac.pdf application/pdf 154.50KB 667

Author Brice, Peter H.
Grigg, Gordon C.
Beard, Lyn A.
Donovan, Janette A.
Title Heat tolerance of short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) in the field
Journal name Journal of Thermal Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0306-4565
Publication date 2002-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/S0306-4565(02)00015-3
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 27
Issue 6
Start page 449
End page 457
Total pages 9
Place of publication Oxford ; New York
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Subject 06 Biological Sciences
060807 Animal Structure and Function
060601 Animal Physiology - Biophysics
Formatted abstract
Echidnas occur throughout the hot arid zone of Australia yet laboratory studies have concluded that they are ill equipped physiologically to manage Ta higher than 35 degrees C.


Consequently, it is generally assumed that echidnas must rely on behavioural thermoregulation, being nocturnal in hot weather and seeking less extreme microclimates during the day.

By monitoring Tb of echidnas in the field and relating these to Ta within their day time shelters in Western Queensland during summer, this study showed that echidnas are able to tolerate Ta of 35-40 degrees C in hollow logs for up to 10 h.

Further, as Tb remains < Ta in these situations, echidnas may have physiological mechanisms for dealing with the heat after all.
Keyword Echidna
Heat tolerance
Body temperature
Tachyglossus aculeatus
References Abensperg-Traun, M., 1991. A study of home-range, movements and shelter use in adult and juvenile echidnas, Tachyglossus aculeatus (Monotremata: Tachyglossidae), in Western Australian wheatbelt reserves. Aust. Mammal. 14, 13-21. Abensperg-Traun, M., De Boer, E.S., 1992. The foraging ecology of a termite and ant-eating specialist, the echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus (Monotremata: Tachyglossidae) J. Zool. Lond. 226, 243-257. Augee; M.L., 1976. Heat tolerance of Monotremes. J. Therm. Biol. 1; 181-184. Augee, M.L., 1978. Monotremes and the evolution of homeothermy: Aust. Zool. 20,111-119. Augee, M.L., Ealey, E.H.M., 1968. Torpor in the echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus. J. Mammal: 49; 446-454. Augee, M.L., Ealey, E.H.M., Price, L.P., 1975. Movements of echidnas, Tachyglossus aculeatus, determined by marking-recapture and radio-tracking. Aust. Wild. Res. 2, 93-101. Augee, M.L., Grant, T.R., 1974. Heat tolerance of echidnas. Bull. Aust. Mamm. Soc. 3, 18. Beard, L.A., Grigg, G.C., 2000, Reproduction in the short-beaked echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus: field observations at an elevated site in south-east Queensland. Proc. Linn. Soc. NSW 122,89-1899. Bentley, P.J., Clyde, F.H.II, Schmidt-Nielsen, K., 1967. Respiration in a monotreme; the echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus. Am, J. Physiol. 212, 957-961. Brattstrom, B.H., 1973. Social and maintenance behaviour of the echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus. J. Mammal: 54, 50-70. Brice, P.H., Grigg, G.C., Beard, L.A., Donovan, J.A., Activity, rest and torpor in free-ranging echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) in semi-arid Queensland: correlates of ambient temperature, time of day and season. Aust J. Zool., in prep. Fanning, F.D., Dawson, T.J., 1989. The use of heart rate telemetry in the measurement of energy expenditure in free-ranging Red Kangaroos. In: Grigg, G., Jarman; P., Hume, I. (Eds.); Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat Kangaroos. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW, pp., 239-244. Gentilli, J., 1986. Climate. In: Jeans, D.N., (Ed.), Australia-A Geography, Vol. 1. The Natural Environment (2nd Ed.). Sydney University Press; Sydney, pp. 14-48. Griffiths, M., 1968; Echidnas, Pergamon Press, Oxford. Griffiths, M., 1978. The Biology of Monotremes. Academic Press, New York. Grigg, G., Beard; L., 1996. Heart rates and respiratory rates of free-ranging echidnas-evidence for metabolic inhibition during hibernation? In: Geiser, F., Hulbert, A.J., Nicol, S.C. (Eds.), Adaptations to the Cold: Tenth International Symposium. University of New England Press, Armidale. Grigg, G.C., Beard, L.A., Augee, M.L., 1989: Hibernation in a monotreme, the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 92A, 609-612. Grigg, G.C., Augee, M.L., Beard, L.A., 1992: Thermal relations of free-living echidnas during activity and in hibernation in a cold climate. In: Augee, M.L. (Ed.), Platypus and Echidnas: Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Sydney. Linacre, E., Hobbs, H., 1977. The Australian Climatic Environment. Wiley, Milton. Nicol, S.C., Andersen, N.A., 2000. Patterns of hibernation of echidnas in Tasmania. In: Heldmaier, G., Klingenspor, M., (Eds.). Life in the Cold: Eleventh International Hibernation Symposium. Springer, Berlin. Parer, J.T., Hodson, W.A., 1974. Respiratory studies of monotremes. IV; normal respiratory functions of echidnas and ventilatory response to inspired oxygen and carbon dioxide. Resp. Physiol. 21, 307-316. Rismiller, P.D., McKelvey, M.W., 1996. Sex, torpor and activity in temperate climate echidnas. In: Geiser, F., Hubert, A.J., Nicol, S.C. (Eds.); Adaptations to the Cold: Tenth International Symposium. University of New England Press, Armidale. Schmidt-Nielsen, K., Dawson, T.J., Crawford Jr., E.C.; 1966. Temperature regulation in the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). J. Cell. Physiol. 67, 63-72. Wilkinson, D.A., Grigg; G.C., Beard, L.A., 1998. Shelter selection and home range of echidnas, Tachyglossus aculeatus, in the highlands of South-East Queensland. Wildl. Res. 25, 219-232.
Q-Index Code C1
Additional Notes Originally published as Peter H. Brice, Gordon C. Grigg, Lyn A. Beard and Janette A. Donovan (2002) Heat tolerance of short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) in the field, Journal of Thermal Biology, 27 (6): 449-457. Copyright 2002 Elsevier. All rights reserved. Single copies may be downloaded and printed for private research and study only.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 11 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 12 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Mon, 19 Sep 2005, 10:00:00 EST by Gordon Grigg on behalf of School of Biological Sciences