Blood and brain temperatures of free-ranging black wildebeest in their natural environment

Am J Physiol. 1994 Dec;267(6 Pt 2):R1528-36. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1994.267.6.R1528.


Using miniature data loggers, we measured the temperatures of carotid blood and brain in four wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) every 2 min for 3 wk and every 5 min, in two of the animals, for a further 6 wk. The animals ranged freely in their natural habitat, in which there was no shelter. They were subject to intense radiant heat (maximum approximately 1,000 W/m2) during the day. Arterial blood temperature showed a circadian rhythm with low amplitude (< 1 degree C) and peaked in early evening. Brain temperature was usually within 0.2 degrees C of arterial blood temperature. Above a threshold between 38.8 and 39.2 degrees C, brain temperature tended to plateau so that the animals exhibited selective brain cooling. However, selective brain cooling sometimes was absent even when blood temperature was high and present when it was low. During helicopter chases, selective brain cooling was absent, even though brain temperature was near 42 degrees C. We believe that selective brain cooling is controlled by brain temperature but is modulated by sympathetic nervous system status. In particular, selective brain cooling may be abolished by high sympathetic activity even at high brain temperatures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antelopes / physiology*
  • Blood*
  • Body Temperature*
  • Brain*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Environment
  • Seasons
  • South Africa