Temperature regulation in lizards: effects of hypoxia

Am J Physiol. 1985 May;248(5 Pt 2):R595-600. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1985.248.5.R595.


Temperature regulation during external (lowered lung PO2) and internal hypoxia (anemia) was examined in four species of lizards. Exposure to a hypoxic gas mixture in a thermogradient resulted in the animals lowering their selected (preferred) body temperature. A 50% reduction in the O2 carrying capacity of the blood also reduced the selected body temperature. Lizards "shuttle" when forced to select a temperature either above or below their normal selected temperature. Exposure to hypoxia decreases the upper and lower exit temperatures during shuttling. Furthermore, a decrease in the inspired O2 causes the rate of heating to no longer exceed the rate of cooling as is normal. The behavioral reduction of body temperature and the altered neural and physiological aspects of temperature regulation appear to be generalized responses to impaired O2 transport and not PO2 per se. The reduced body temperature, by lowering metabolic demand, provides an effective, even life-saving, adaptation to hypoxia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Iguanas / physiology
  • Lizards / physiology*