Thermographic Analysis of Body Surface Temperature of Mammals

  • Mortola J
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Among mammals, the similarity in body temperature indicates that body size differences in heat loss must match the body size differences in heat production. This study tested the possibility that body surface temperature (Tbs), responsible for heat loss through radiation and convection, may vary systematically with the animal's body mass (M). Tbs was measured by whole body thermography in 53 specimens from 37 eutherian mammals ranging in M from a few grams to several tons. Numerous thermographs were taken from all angles, indoor, with the animals standing still in absence of air convection and of external radiant sources, at the ambient temperature of 20-22°C, 22-25°C, or 25-27°C. Data were analysed as whole body surface average, as average of the "effective" body surface area (those regions with temperatures exceeding ambient temperature by > 1.5°C or by > 5°C), as the peak histogram distribution and as average of the regions with the top 20% temperature values. For all modes of data analysis and at all ambient temperatures Tbs was independent of the animal's M. From these data, the heat loss by radiation and natural convection combined was estimated to vary to the 2/3 power of M. It is concluded that, for the same ambient conditions, the surface temperature responsible for radiation and convection is essentially body-size independent among mammals.

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  • Jacopo P. Mortola

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