Locomotor activity in the Namaqua rock mouse (Micaelamys namaquensis): Entrainment by light manipulations

I. van der Merwe, N. C. Bennett, A. Haim, M. K. Oosthuizen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The locomotor activity rhythms of wild-caught Namaqua rock mice (Micaelamys namaquensis (A. Smith, 1834)) were examined under four light-cycle regimes to quantitatively describe the daily expression of locomotor activity and to study the innate relationship between activity and the light-dark cycle. Activity was always significantly higher at night than during the day; we note four trends. (1) The LD1 light cycle (12 h light : 12 h dark) established a distinct light-entrained and strongly nocturnal activity rhythm (99.11% nocturnal activity). The activity onset was prompt (zeitgeber time (ZT) 12.2 ± 0.04) and activity continued without any prominent peaks or extended times of rest until the offset of activity at ZT 23.73 ± 0.08. (2) Evidence for the internal maintenance of locomotor activity was obtained from the constant dark cycle (DD) in which locomotor activity free ran (mean τ = 23.89 h) and 77.58% of the activity was expressed during the subjective night. (3) During re-entrainment (LD2; 12 h light : 12 h dark), a nocturnal activity rhythm was re-established (98.65% nocturnal activity). (4) The inversion of the light cycle (DL; 12 h dark : 12 h light) evoked a shift in activity that again revealed dark-induced locomotor activity (95.69% nocturnal activity). Females were consistently more active than males in all of the light cycles, but only under the DD and LD2 cycles were females significantly more active than males. Although this species is considered nocturnal from field observations, information regarding its daily expression of activity and the role of light in its entrainment is lacking. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to report quantitatively on the species’ daily rhythm of activity and to investigate its relationship to the light-dark cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1091
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 National Research Council of Canada. All rights reserved.


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Entrainment
  • Free-run
  • Locomotor activity
  • Micaelamys namaquensis
  • Namaqua rock mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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