New paper in PeerJ


Temperature regulation in the Balkan spadefoot (Pelobates balcanicus Karaman, 1928) at the beginning of nocturnal activity.

Natchev N, Koynova T, Tachev K, Doichev D, Marinova P, Velkova V, Jablonski D. 2022.
PeerJ 10:e13647 Link. Published online 15 July 2022


On land, the amphibians interact with the environment in a complex way-even small changes in the physiological conditions may significantly impact the behaviour and vice versa. In ectothermic tetrapods, the transition from inactive to active phase may be related to important changes in their thermal status. We studied the thermal ecology of adult Balkan spadefoots (Pelobates balcanicus Karaman, 1928) in northeastern Bulgaria. These toads spend the daytime buried between 10 and 15 cm in sandy substrates, and emerge after sunset. On the substrate, their thermal energy exchange is defined by the absence of heat flow from the sun. Secondary heat sources, like stored heat and infrared radiation from the soil play an important role for the thermal balance of the active spadefoot toads. At the beginning of their daily activity, we measured substrate temperature (at a depth of 11–12 cm), toad’s surface body temperature, and also provided thermal profiles of the animals and the substrate surface in their microhabitats. In animals which recently emerged from the substrate, the temperature was comparatively higher and was closer to that of the subsoil on the spot. After that, body temperature decreased rapidly and continued to change slowly, in correlation with air temperature. We detected a temperature gradient on the dorsal surface of the toads. On the basis of our measurements and additional data, we discuss the eventual role of air humidity and the effects of surface and skin water evaporation on the water balance and activity of the investigated toads.