Advertisement

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 191, Issue 11, pp 1065–1077 | Cite as

Orientation to solar radiation in black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou)

  • Shane K. Maloney
  • Graeme Moss
  • Duncan Mitchell
Original Paper

Abstract

We recorded the body axis orientation of free-living black wildebeest relative to incident solar radiation and wind. Observations were made on three consecutive days, on six occasions over the course of 1 year, in a treeless, predominantly cloudless habitat. Frequency of orientation parallel to incident solar radiation increased, and perpendicular to incident solar radiation decreased, as ambient dry-bulb temperature or solar radiation intensity increased, or wind speed decreased. We believe these changes were mediated via their effect on skin temperature. Parallel orientation behavior was more prominent when the wildebeest were standing without feeding than it was when they were feeding. We calculate that a black wildebeest adopting parallel orientation throughout the diurnal period would absorb 30% less radiant heat than the same animal adopting perpendicular orientation. Parallel orientation was reduced at times when water was freely available, possibly reflecting a shift from behavioral to autonomic thermoregulatory mechanisms. The use of orientation behavior by black wildebeest is well developed and forms part of the suite of adaptations that help them to maintain heat balance while living in a shadeless, often hot, environment.

Keywords

Behavior Black wildebeest Diel activity patterns Orientation Thermoregulation Ungulates Connochaetes gnou 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Mark Berry and DeBeers Consolidated Mines for permission to carry out the study on Benfontein, and Peter, Jennifer, Gregory, and Nicky Gibbs for their friendship and help on site. Tammy Cartmell, Steven Cartmell and Simone Glassom helped with data collection. Petro Vorster from the Kimberley office of the South African Weather Bureau kindly supplied the rainfall data. Professor Phil Withers and an anonymous reviewer helped to improve the manuscript. The study was funded in part by the South African Foundation for Research Development. SKM was in receipt of a University of the Witwatersrand Post Doctoral Fellowship. These experiments comply with the “Principles of animal care” publication number 86–23, revised 1985 of the National Institute of Health, and also the laws of South Africa.

References

  1. Acocks JPH (1975) Veld types of South Africa. Mem Bot Surv S Afr 40, 128 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Altmann J (1974) Observational study of behaviour: sampling methods. Behavior 49:227–267Google Scholar
  3. Batschelet E (1981) Circular statistics in biology. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Ben Shahar R, Fairall N (1987) Comparison of the diurnal activity patterns of blue wildebeest and red hartebeest. S Afr J Wildl Res 17:49–54Google Scholar
  5. Berry HH, Siegfried WR, Crowe TM (1982) Activity patterns in a population of free-ranging wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus at Etosha National Park. Z Tierpsychol 59:229–246Google Scholar
  6. Berry HH, Siegfried WR, Crowe TM (1984) Orientation of wildebeest in relation to sun angle and wind direction. Madoqua 13:297–301Google Scholar
  7. Clapperton JL, Joyce JP, Blaxter KL (1965) Estimates of the contribution of solar radiation to the thermal exchanges of sheep at a latitude of 55° north. J Agric Sci 64:37–49Google Scholar
  8. Clark RG, Ohmart RD (1985) Spread-winged posture of Turkey Vultures: single or multiple function? Condor 87:350–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. David JHM (1973) The behaviour of the bontebok, Damaliscus dorcas dorcas, (Palls 1766), with special reference to territorial behaviour. Z Tierpsychol 33:38–107Google Scholar
  10. Estes RD (1991) The behaviour guide to african mammals. University of California Press Ltd, Oxford, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  11. Finch VA (1972) Energy exchanges with the environment of two East african antelopes, the eland and the hartebeest. Symp Zool Soc Lond 31:315–326Google Scholar
  12. Frank SM, Raja SN, Bulcao CF, Goldstein DS (1999) Relative contribution of core and cutaneous temperatures to thermal comfort and autonomic responses in humans. J Appl Physiol 86:1588–1593PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Hofmeyr MD, Louw GN (1987) Thermoregulation, pelage conductance and renal function in the desert-adapted springbok, Antidorcas marsupialis. J Arid Environ 13:137–151Google Scholar
  14. Hogan AG, Skouby CI (1923) Determination of the surface area of cattle and swine. J Agric Res 25:419–430Google Scholar
  15. Jarman MV, Jarman PJ (1973) Daily activity of impala. East Afr Wildl J 11:75–92Google Scholar
  16. Jessen C, Laburn HP, Knight MH, Kuhnen G, Goelst K, Mitchell D (1994) Blood and brain temperatures of free-ranging black wildebeest in their natural environment. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 36:R1528–R1536Google Scholar
  17. King JM (1979) Game domestication for animal production in Kenya: field studies of the body-water turnover of game and livestock. J Agric Sci 93:71–79Google Scholar
  18. Lewis JG (1978) Game domestication for animal production in Kenya: shade behaviour and factors affecting the herding of eland, oryx, buffalo and zebu cattle. J Agric Sci 90:587–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Maloney SK, Dawson TJ (1995) The heat load from solar radiation on a large, diurnally active bird, the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae). J Therm Biol 20:381–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Maloney SK, Moss G, Cartmell T, Mitchell D (2005) Alteration in diel activity patterns as a thermoregulatory strategy in black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou). J Comp Physiol A (in press)Google Scholar
  21. Mitchell A (1977) Preliminary observations on the daytime activity patterns of lesser kudu in Tsavo National Park, Kenya. East Afr Wildl J 15:199–206Google Scholar
  22. Norusis MJ (1992) SPSS for Windows Based System User’s Guide Release 5. SPSS Inc, USAGoogle Scholar
  23. Rautenberg W, May B, Arabin G (1980) Behavioral and autonomic temperature regulation in competition with food intake and water balance of pigeons. Pflugers Arch Eur J Physiol 384:253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Refinetti R, Carlisle HJ (1986) Effects of anterior and posterior hypothalamic temperature changes on thermoregulation in the rat. Physiol Behav 36:1099–1104CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Riemerschmid G (1943) Some aspects of solar radiation in its relation to cattle in South Africa and Europe. Onderstepoort J vet Res 18:327–353Google Scholar
  26. Sellers RM (1995) Wing-spreading behaviour of the Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo. Ardea 83:27–36Google Scholar
  27. Skinner JD, Smithers RHN (1990) The mammals of the southern african subregion. University of Pretoria Press, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  28. Torres-Contreras H, Bozinovic F (1997) Food selection in an herbivorous rodent: Balancing nutrition with thermoregulation. Ecology 78:2230–2237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zar JH (1996) Biostatistical analysis, 3rd edn. Prentice Hall Inc, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shane K. Maloney
    • 1
    • 3
  • Graeme Moss
    • 2
  • Duncan Mitchell
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PhysiologyUniversity of the Witwatersrand Medical SchoolJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department for Environment and HeritageKangaroo IslandAustralia
  3. 3.Physiology M311, School of Biomedical and Chemical ScienceUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations