Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 188, Issue 6, pp 977–990 | Cite as

Effect of temperature on the locomotor performance of species in a lizard assemblage in the Puna region of Argentina

  • Rodrigo Gómez AlésEmail author
  • Juan Carlos Acosta
  • Vanesa Astudillo
  • Mariela Córdoba
  • Graciela Mirta Blanco
  • Donald Miles
Original Paper


Locomotion is relevant to the ecology of reptiles because of its presumed influence on an organism’s Darwinian fitness. Moreover, in ectothermic species, physiological performance capacity is affected by body temperature. We analyzed two components of locomotor performance in three species of lizards, Phymaturus extrilidus, Liolaemus parvus, and Liolaemus ruibali, in the Puna environment of Argentina. First, we estimated the thermal sensitivity of locomotion by measuring sprint speed at four different body temperatures. We included two measures of sprint speed: initial velocity and long sprint for sustained runs. Based on these data, we calculated the optimal temperature for performance and the optimal performance breadth. We also estimated endurance capacity at a single temperature. Maximum sprint speed for L. parvus was greater than L. ruibali and P. extrilidus in both initial velocity and long sprint. In contrast, L. parvus exhibited lower levels of endurance than L. ruibali and P. extrilidus. However, endurance in L. ruibali exceeded that of P. extrilidus. The species differed in the optimal temperature for the initial velocity with the lowest for L. ruibali (31.8 °C) followed by P. extrilidus (33.25 °C) and then L. parvus (36.25 °C). The optimal temperature for long sprint varied between 32 and 36 °C for all species. We found that all species attained maximum performance at body temperatures commonly experienced during daily activity, which was higher than the thermal quality of the environment. We found evidence for thermal sensitivity in locomotor performance in these species. However, we also show that the broad thermal breadth of performance suggests that the lizards are capable of sustaining near optimal levels of locomotor performance at ambient temperatures that would appear to be suboptimal. Thus, this lizard assemblage is capable of coping with the highly variable climatic conditions in the Puna region of Argentina.


Sprint speed Endurance Thermal optimum Phymaturus extrilidus Liolaemus parvus Liolaemus ruibali 



We thank Arturo Curatola and Andres Calderon for permission to work in Reserva “Don Carmelo”; Nora Ibargüengoytía for lend us the track to trials sprint speed and Alyson Nuñez for assisting us with the English version. Thanks also to Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Dirección de Conservación y Áreas Protegidas, Provincia de San Juan for research permits. Financial support was received from Beca CICITCA (Res. 1767/14-R, RGA) and project CICITCA 881 (JCA). This research was partially supported by the Universidad Nacional de San Juan and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (beca doctoral CONICET, Res. 2358/14, RGA). Miles was supported by NSF Grant (EF128428).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors confirm there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was not required.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DIBIOVA (Gabinete Diversidad y Biología de Vertebrados del Árido), Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de San JuanSan JuanArgentina
  2. 2.CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas)San JuanArgentina
  3. 3.CIGEOBIO-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de San JuanSan JuanArgentina
  4. 4.Department of Biological Sciences, and Ohio Center for Ecological and Evolutionary StudiesOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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