Daily rhythms of rectal and body surface temperatures in donkeys during the cold-dry (harmattan) and hot-dry seasons in a tropical savannah

Abstract

The aim of the study was to evaluate daily rhythms of rectal temperature (RT) and body surface temperature (BST) of adult, yearling and foal donkeys during the cold-dry (harmattan) and hot-dry seasons in a tropical savanna. The RTs and BSTs of 30 clinically healthy, free-ranging donkeys were recorded using digital and infrared thermometers. The RT and BST of each donkey and thermal environmental parameters inside the pen were measured bi-hourly from 0600 to 0600 hours (GM + 1) on each experimental day. Application of single cosinor procedure showed that RT and BST exhibited varying levels of daily rhythmicity in both seasons, with values usually higher during the afternoon periods of the photophase of the light/dark cycle. The oscillatory pattern differed with season, with greater amplitude recorded during the cold-dry season than the hot-dry season. The acrophases of the RT and BST were mostly restricted to the photophase of the light/dark cycle in both seasons. The mean values of RT in the adult (37.10 ± 0.10 °C), yearling (37.19 ± 0.10 °C) and foal (37.45 ± 0.11 °C) donkeys were higher (F = 93.41, P < 0.0001) during the hot-dry season than the cold-dry season (35.40 ± 0.05 °C, 35.50 ± 0.04 °C and 36.20 ± 0.05 °C, respectively). In conclusion, seasonal changes influenced significantly the daily rhythmicity of RT and BST in donkeys, kept under natural light/dark cycle.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the technical staff of the National Animal Production and Research Institute, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, for their technical support.

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Correspondence to Friday Ocheja Zakari.

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The study was approved by the Ahmadu Bello University Committee on Animal Welfare and Use, and the donkeys were handled according to the guidelines for ethical conduct in the care and use of animals, developed by the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Animal Research and Ethics.

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Zakari, F.O., Ayo, J.O., Rekwot, P.I. et al. Daily rhythms of rectal and body surface temperatures in donkeys during the cold-dry (harmattan) and hot-dry seasons in a tropical savannah. Int J Biometeorol 62, 2231–2243 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-018-1626-z

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Keywords

  • Season
  • Light/dark cycle
  • Adult
  • Yearling
  • Foal
  • Photophase