Physiological responses of the common ringtail possum to heat wave exposure

James Turner

    Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    As the world's climate warms, heat waves are predicted to increase in intensity, frequency and duration.Although relatively brief, they can bear long-lasting ecological consequences by having both sub-lethal (e.g.,reduced body condition) and lethal effects. As such, heat waves will increasingly pose a globally significantproblem for animal species. Mammals can manage excess heat by allowing body temperature to increasewith high ambient temperature to save water, but only up to a point—after which, they must actively coolthemselves using evaporative water loss, thereby increasing the risk of dehydration. Surpassing such athreshold for too long can result in mortality. Therefore, the efficacy of cooling strategies is likely to be vitalfor wildlife species survival, particularly those with limited opportunities for behavioural thermoregulation. Tobetter understand the direct effects of high ambient temperature on marsupial physiology, I measured thebody temperature, water loss and metabolic rate of wild-caught common ringtail possums Pseudocheirusperegrinus in response to a simulated heat wave. Here, I present preliminary data on the possum’s use ofcontrolled hyperthermia and changes in thermal conductance to reduce water loss and cope with extremeambient temperature. By quantifying the effect of environmental heat on animal physiology, this project aimsto provide information crucial for predicting how and where wildlife populations will persist in a warmingworld.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
    EventAustralian Mammal Society Conference - The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
    Duration: 07 Jul 201911 Jul 2019
    Conference number: 65 (Conference website)


    ConferenceAustralian Mammal Society Conference
    Internet address


    Dive into the research topics of 'Physiological responses of the common ringtail possum to heat wave exposure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this