Seasonal, sexual, and individual variation in endurance and activity metabolism in lizards

Am J Physiol. 1987 Mar;252(3 Pt 2):R439-49. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1987.252.3.R439.


Amphibolurus nuchalis were collected in central Australia during mid- (January) and late summer (March). Endurance time at 1 km/h on a motorized treadmill is greater in larger lizards, scaling as M0.65. Maximal O2 consumption (VO2max) scales as M0.96; standard metabolic rate (SMR) scales as M0.83. Factorial aerobic scope thus increases ontogenetically (9.4 at 1 g vs. 15 at 50 g). All organ masses scale allometrically; larger lizards have relatively smaller livers, but larger hearts and thigh muscles. Hematocrit and hemoglobin increase during early ontogeny, but are mass independent in adults. Maximal in vitro catalytic rates were determined for citrate synthase (CS) and pyruvate kinase (PK) in liver, heart, and thigh muscle and for lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) (lactate oxidation) in heart. All enzyme activities (expressed per g tissue) scale positively, except CS in heart. Females exhibit lower SMR and heart CS activity. March animals exhibit elevated endurance, VO2max, heart LDH, and thigh CS and PK activities. Individual variation in endurance correlates with individual differences in heart LDH and thigh CS and/or PK activities. Individual differences in VO2max are partly related to variation in hematocrit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Lizards / growth & development
  • Lizards / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Seasons*
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Hemoglobins