How effectively do European skinks thermoregulate? Evidence from Chalcides ocellatus, a common but overlooked Mediterranean lizard
Effective thermoregulation is of vital importance since body temperature affects virtually all physiological and biochemical processes. Yet, our current knowledge in reptilian thermoregulation is largely based on a few, well-studied taxonomic groups. This is especially true in Europe, where our insights derive primarily from studies on the numerous lacertids of the continent. Skinks on the other hand remain understudied despite being abundant around the Mediterranean. In this paper we examine the thermoregulation effectiveness of the Ocellated Skink, a common lizard whose thermal biology has been overlooked, focusing on a population from a typical Mediterranean habitat in mainland Greece. We recorded body temperatures in the field and the lab and assessed the thermal quality of the habitat through operative temperatures. Our findings suggest that Chalcides ocellatus is a poor thermoregulator that stands very close to thermoconformity. The high thermal quality of the habitat allows the Ocellated Skink to regulate its temperature with less effort and lower accuracy. This indicates that C. ocellatus may have adopted a distinct thermoregulation strategy, most probably due to the particular life style of skinks.
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