, Volume 191, Issue 4, pp 817–827 | Cite as

The Bogert Effect and environmental heterogeneity

  • Michael L. LoganEmail author
  • Jenna van Berkel
  • Susana Clusella-Trullas
Physiological ecology – original research


A classic question in evolutionary biology is whether behavioral flexibility hastens or hinders evolutionary change. The latter idea, that behavior reduces the number of environmental states experienced by an organism and buffers that organism against selection, has been dubbed the “Bogert Effect” after Charles Bogert, the biologist who first popularized the phenomenon using data from lizards. The Bogert Effect is pervasive when traits like body temperature, which tend to be invariant across space in species that behaviorally thermoregulate, are considered. Nevertheless, behavioral thermoregulation decreases or stops when spatial variation in operative temperature is low. We compared environmental temperatures, thermoregulatory behavior, and a suite of physiological and morphological traits between two populations of the southern rock agama (Agama atra) in South Africa that experience different climatic regimes. Individuals from both populations thermoregulated efficiently, maintaining body temperatures within their preferred temperature range throughout most of their activity cycle. Nevertheless, they differed in the thermal sensitivity of resting metabolic rate at cooler body temperatures and in morphology. Our results support the common assertion that thermoregulatory behavior may prevent divergence in traits like field-active body temperature, which are measured during periods of high environmental heterogeneity. Nevertheless, we show that other traits may be free to diverge if they are under selection during times when environments are homogenous. We argue that the importance of the Bogert Effect is critically dependent on the nature of environmental heterogeneity and will therefore be relevant to some traits and irrelevant to others in many populations.


Adaptation Agama Behavioral thermoregulation Metabolic rate Water loss 



The authors would like to thank A. Hougaard and J. S. Terblanche for assistance in the field and lab, respectively. We would like to thank K. Keegan for help with analyses. Funding for this project was provided by a United States National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology awarded to MLL (award number DBI-1402497), and by Stellenbosch University and the Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology to SCT.

Author contributions statement

MLL and SCT designed the study. MLL and JVB collected the data. MLL and SCT analyzed the data. MLL, SCT, and JVB wrote the paper.

Compliance ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement of human and animal rights

All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All research was carried out under Stellenbosch University animal ethics protocol no. SU-ACUD14-00110 and under CapeNature permit no. 0056-AAA007-00156.

Supplementary material

442_2019_4541_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (60 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 59 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Nevada, RenoRenoUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstitutePanamáPanamá
  3. 3.Department of Botany and ZoologyCentre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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