Thermographic Analysis of Body Surface Temperature of Mammals

  • Mortola J
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BioOne ( is a nonprofit, online aggregation of core research in the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences. BioOne provides a sustainable online platform for over 170 journals and books published by nonprofit societies, associations, museums, institutions, and presses. Your use of this PDF, the BioOne Web site, and all posted and associated content indicates your acceptance of BioOne's Terms of Use, available at 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 thermog-raphy 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 o C, 22–25 o C, or 25–27 o C. Data were analysed as whole body surface average, as average of the " effec-tive " body surface area (those regions with temperatures exceeding ambient temperature by > 1.5 o C or by > 5 o 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 inde-pendent of the animal's M. From these data, the heat loss by radiation and natural convection com-bined 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.

Author-supplied keywords

  • body surface
  • heat loss
  • skin temperature
  • thermoregulation

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  • Jacopo P Mortola

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