Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 182, Issue 4, pp 541–551 | Cite as

Benefits of thermal acclimation in a tropical aquatic ectotherm, the Arafura filesnake, Acrochordus arafurae

  • Melissa J. Bruton
  • Rebecca L. Cramp
  • Craig E. FranklinEmail author
Original Paper


The presumption that organisms benefit from thermal acclimation has been widely debated in the literature. The ability to thermally acclimate to offset temperature effects on physiological function is prevalent in ectotherms that are unable to thermoregulate year-round to maintain performance. In this study we examined the physiological and behavioural consequences of long-term exposure to different water temperatures in the aquatic snake Acrochordus arafurae. We hypothesised that long dives would benefit this species by reducing the likelihood of avian predation. To achieve longer dives at high temperatures, we predicted that thermal acclimation of A. arafurae would reduce metabolic rate and increase use of aquatic respiration. Acrochordus arafurae were held at 24 or 32°C for 3 months before dive duration and physiological factors were assessed (at both 24 and 32°C). Although filesnakes demonstrated thermal acclimation of metabolic rate, use of aquatic respiration was thermally independent and did not acclimate. Mean dive duration did not differ between the acclimation groups at either temperature; however, warm-acclimated animals increased maximum and modal dive duration, demonstrating a longer dive duration capacity. Our study established that A. arafurae is capable of thermal acclimation and this confers a benefit to the diving abilities of this snake.


Diving Metabolic rate Respiration Reptile Temperature Predation 



The authors acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Kirstin Pratt and students from the Franklin Laboratory. This research was conducted with approval from The University of Queensland Animal Ethics Committee (Approval No. SIB/888/08/URG) and a Queensland Scientific Purposes Research Permit (WISP05336708) issued by the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa J. Bruton
    • 1
  • Rebecca L. Cramp
    • 1
  • Craig E. Franklin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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