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Ambient temperature and humidity modulate the behavioural thermoregulation of a small arboreal mammal (Callicebus bernhardi)

Lopes, Karine G.D., Bicca-Marques, Júlio César
Journal of thermal biology 2017 v.69 pp. 104-109
adults, air, ambient temperature, body temperature, habitat fragmentation, juveniles, microhabitats, microprocessors, monkeys, night temperature, posture, relative humidity, thermoregulation
Maintaining a constant body temperature is critical to the proper functioning of metabolic reactions. Behavioural thermoregulation strategies may minimize the cost of energetic balance when an animal is outside its thermoneutral zone. We investigated whether ambient temperature and relative air humidity influence the use of behavioural strategies by a group of Prince Bernhard's titi monkeys (Callicebus bernhardi) living in a forest fragment. We monitored a social group composed of four individuals (an adult couple and two juveniles) for 1010h from March to September 2015. We used the instantaneous scan sampling method to record the body posture, the microhabitat, and the occurrence of huddling with group mate(s) when animals were resting. We recorded ambient temperature and relative humidity in the shade every 10min with a data logger hanging at a height of approximately 5m. Daytime temperature ranged from 18.5°C to 38.5°C and relative humidity ranged from 21% to 97%. Titi monkeys avoided sunny places at higher temperatures, especially above 31°C. Minimum night temperature did not influence the choice of resting microhabitats during the first hour after sunrise. Sitting was the major resting posture during the day (62%). Titi monkeys increased the use of heat-dissipating postures at ambient temperatures >27°C. In addition, an increase in relative humidity increased the use of these postures at 26°C, 27°C, 29°C and 33°C, but caused a decrease at 24°C. On the other hand, the ambient temperature did not influence the occurrence of huddling. We conclude that microhabitat choice and postural behaviour are important for titi monkeys to prevent overheating and suggest that these behavioural adjustments might also be critical for other tropical arboreal mammals.