Cost and benefits of lizard thermoregulation

Q Rev Biol. 1976 Sep;51(3):363-84. doi: 10.1086/409470.


Lizards thermoregulate by behavioral and physiological adjustments. The resultant control over metabolic processes is generally assumed to be beneficial. However, these thermoregulatory adjustments have associated costs which, if extensive, make thermoregulation impractical. We extend this idea into an abstract mathematical, cost-benefit model of thermoregulation in lizards. Investigation of the model leads to a set of predictions which includes: (1) the physiologically optimal temperature is not always the ecologically optimal temperature; (2) thermoregulation is beneficial only when associated costs are low; (3) thermal specialists will normally thermoregulate more carefully than thermal generalists unless costs are high; and (4) lizards will thermoregulate more carefully if productivity of the habitat is increased or if exploitation competition is reduced. Data on lizards, where available, generally agree with these predicitions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Food Supply
  • Lizards / physiology*
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Temperature