The effects of season and dietary salt content on body temperature daily rhythms of common spiny mice from different micro-habitats

Uri Shanas, Daniel Afik, Michael Scantlebury, Abraham Haim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compared body temperature (Tb) daily rhythms in two populations of common spiny mice, Acomys cahirinus, during summer and winter months in relation to increasing dietary salt content. Mice were collected from the North and South facing slopes (NFS and SFS) of the same valley, that are exhibiting mesic and xeric habitats, respectively. During the summer, whilst mice were offered a water source containing 0.9% NaCl, SFS individuals had Tb peak values at 24:00, whereas NFS individuals had peak values at 18:00. When the salinity of the water source was increased, from 0.9 to 2.5% and then 3.5%, the difference between maximal and minimal Tb of both populations increased. In addition, with increased salinity, the Tb daily peak of SFS mice shifted to 18:00. During the winter, the mean daily Tb values of both populations of mice were lower than during the summer. At 0.9% salinity, the NFS mice exhibited a daily Tb variation with a peak at the beginning of the night. However, we did not detect any significant variation in daily Tb in the SFS mice. At 2.5% salinity, the difference between the mean daily Tb of mice from the two slopes increased. In winter we were unable to increase the salinity to 3.5% as the animals began to lose weight rapidly. We suggest that common spiny mice that inhabit these two micro-habitats are forming two discrete populations that respond differently to the environmental pressures prevailing in each habitat, by evolving different physiological capacities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-295
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Prof. Zeev Arad for critical reading of the manuscript, and for the anonymous referee for his useful comments. In addition we would like to thank Hagai Kupstein, Alina Neuman and Udi Ron for their assistance in the lab and in the field. This work was supported by a grant from the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities to AH and DA (grant # 298/97-2).


  • Body temperature
  • Daily rhythms
  • Evolutionary physiology
  • Mediterranean ecosystem
  • Rodents
  • Salinity
  • Spiny mice
  • Thermoregulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology


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