, Volume 110, Issue 2, pp 209-215

Brain temperatures in birds

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Summary

  1. Brain (hypothalamic) and cloacal temperatures were measured in heat-stressed Lesser Nighthawks (Chordeiles acutipennis), Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), Pigeons (Columba livia), and White-Necked Ravens (Corvus cryptoleucus) and in one Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus). Range of mean body masses was 0.047 to 1.156 kg.

  2. In all these species brain temperatures were always below cloacal temperatures (Fig. 1). The body-to-brain temperature difference was maintained nearly constant within a species over a wide range of cloacal and air temperatures, and varied in magnitude from 0.80°C in the Roadrunner to 1.29°C in Mallards.

  3. The presence of arete mirabile ophthalmicum was demonstrated in all five species. This rete may be associated with the observed pattern of brain temperature control.

  4. The body-to-brain temperature difference may be important in avoiding brain damage during core hyperthermia.