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Effect of Temperature and Water Deprivation on Body
Temperature in Idmi Gazelle, Gazella gazella
Department of Zoology, College of Science, King Saud University,
P.O. Box 2455, Riyadh 1l451, Saudi Arabia.
* National Commissionfor Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD)
P.G. Box 61681, Riyadh 1l571, Saudi Arabia.
Effect of air temperature and water deprivation on body temperature was
studied in captive-bred Idmi Gazalle, Gazella gazella, during winter and summer. Air
temperature ranged from a minimum of 3 DC to a maximum of 19 DC in winter, and from
26 DC to 44 DC in summer. Body temperature did not vary greatly during winter and
summer when water was available. In summer, a significant increase in body temperature
was recorded apparently because of reduction of evaporation and the accompanied
dehydration. Animals were able to withstand water deprivation for 8 days in winter and 3
days in summer. The results indicate that the species might withstand dehydration for
relatively long periods in its natural habitat.
Key Words: arabia, Idmi gazelle, Gazella gazella, body temperature, water deprivation,
hyderation, dehydration, chydration.
living therein to be able to cope with the
Desert animals and large mammals
problems. The most important of these
inhabiting arid environments, and less is
scarcity of water supply in addition to
about the mammals of the
high solar radiation (Louw and Seely,
1992). Most of the
Arabian gazelles. Most previous studies
Arabian Peninsula is dry and arid desert,
with great variation in
temperature (Williamson and Delima,
(1990) studied water intake of Arabian
1990). It is necessary for the animals
gazelles, and Tatwany and Goldspink
response of Idmi to changes in dietary
gazelles were fed and watered ad lib for
5 days during winter and summer, then
they were unwatered for 8 days during
and for 3 days
of Gazella gazella
summer (July) (dehydration phase), after
1766 to the harsh conditions
weakness. At that point animals were
scarcity are prevailing factors in desert
for 24 hours during both
land, and the survival of desert animals
depend on how long they cope with it.
Radio Telemetry System (RTS) was
This study tries to answer the question
used as described by Williamson et al.
of how long could the Idmi stay without
(1992). Briefly, the system is made up
water during winter and summer. This
of a radio receiver, a pulse interval timer
successful reintroduction of this species
into the wild.
which sends out pulses
intervals that vary directly proportional
Materials and Methods
with temperature. The transmitters were
The study was carried out at King
(KKWRC), Thumamah (75 kIn north of
temperature was varied so that a linear
gazelle were selected for this study.
temperature as the independent variable
Their ages were about 1-2 years and
as the dependent
their weights ranged between 17 and 21
kg. Animals were medically checked by
could be calculated
pulse interval to an accuracy of 0.1 DC.
stables, (3 x 4 m each) with
After calibration, transmitters were
good light and aeration.
inserted surgically into the abdominal
The effect of air temperature
cavity of each gazelle. Thus, within half
water deprivation on body temperature
an hour after the operation the trans-
of the gazelles was monitored over three
Fig. 1. Variations in mean body temperature of gazelles during the three phases of experiment in
summer (A) and winter (B).
to its normal
were observed and followed-up for four
Mean body temperature ranged between
weeks till complete recovery.
38.6 °c to 39.4 °c during this phase.
Body temperature of all animals was
However; a significant difference of 1.3
recorded once every 2 hours from 0600
was noticed when these
to 1800 hrs both during summer and
animals were given enough water after
winter. These readings were taken daily
dehydration (Fig.1A). Body temperature
during the three phases of experiment
decreased to 38.3 °c after 2 hours of
(hydration, deprivation and rehydration).
Statistical analysis was done using
temperature continued to its maximum
Minitab package. Analysis of variance
at 1400 hr, then gradually
were used for comparing the results of
temperature, 10 hours after rehydration.
the three phases during the two seasons.
The atmospheric temperature ranged
from a minimum
Air temperature ranged from a low
humidity was 38-400/0 in the early hours
of 3-8 °C to a high of 11-19 0c. The
of the day, and was as low as 20-30% in
relative humidity was high (61-97%) in
the late hours
of the day. In these
the early hours of the morning, and low
later in the day over the
duration of the experiment in winter. In
variation in gazelle's body temperature
such conditions and with the presence of
(> 0.5 °C); the body temperature ranged
water, no wide range of difference had
between 39.6 °c at 0600 hr and 40.1 °c
been observed in the body temperature
(> 0.2 °C). Mean
ranged between 39.4 °c and 39.6 °C.
consecutive days, a significant variation
When gazelles were deprived of water, a
was noticed (2.1 °C) during
slight drop of their body temperature
temperature (39.5 °C) was recorded in
temperature did not vary greatly during
the morning between 0600-0800 hrs,
the same summer period when water
and the highest (41.6 °C) was in the
afternoon (1600-1800 hrs) (Fig. IB).
Water deprivation during summer
When animals were rehydrated, their
affected gazelles very greatly, they
could only withstand three days, after
(O.I°C), then rose within two hours to
animals were very weak,
same pattern as before
drowsy and emaciated. In addition, a
dehydration. With availability of water,
degree of eyeball retraction and skin
the animal body temperature did not
turgor was noticed. Similar conditions
were reported by Gary et al. (1979) on
winter and summer. The variation was
horses, and by Mohamed (1986) on
0.2 °C in the morning and 0.7 °C in the
Dorcas gazelle during their studies on
the effect of dehydration in summer.
The difference in body temperature
High air temperature during summer
was significant in case of the dehydrated
affect gazelles body temperature, and
variation was 1.1 °C in the early hours
of the morning and was upto 2.4 °C in
the late hours of the day. The variation
evaporation is correlated to animal's
rehydration of the animals during the
temperature (Ghobrial, 1974; Taylor,
1972).Williamson and Delima (1990)
found out that evaporation of water
increased exponentially as temperature
When water was available, body
increased in Idmi and Rheem gazelles
temperature of all gazelles did not show
under similar conditions. They attributed
that to the onset of evaporative cooling
summer. Animals maintained their body
when air temperature was high.
temperature around its normal level
Low air temperature during winter
inspite of high summer temperature of
44°C. Furthermore, the gazelle body
withstand water deprivation upto 8 days.
Food moisture content might prolong the
period of endurance.
temperature during the last periods of
This was observed when
controlling water-temperature relation in
the lowest body temperature was 39.5
°C and the air temperature was 28 DC.
Delima (1990) explained the significant
The highest recorded body temperature
was 41.6 °C when the air temperature
compared to Idmi to the higher quantity
was 41 DC at 4-6 pm. It could
of grain in the Rheem diet. Idmi were
that this variation
found to take more forage which contain
higher water content.
animals attempt to reduce evaporation
through respiration and sweating at high
animals did not show significance
body and air temperature during the day.
variation in the body temperature, as the
difference was only 0.8 DC. Thus, the
Ghobrial (1970) on Afri gazelle, and
animals did not allow for much decrease
in their body temperature, although the
probably because the animals tend to
take more food (while dehydration), in
addition to using their own body fat to
environment to reach the lowest possible
produce excess heat energy to counter
body temperature without much loss of
the drop of the air temperature,
sweating. These gazelles by so doing
temperature (Tietz, 1987).
The opposite situation occured when
the animals were dehydrated in summer
1970a, 1970b, 1972; Williamson et al.,
as they allowed for greater variation in
their body temperature (2.1 DC) during
reported that the variations of the rectal
temperature of the Arabian camel may
relationship was noticed between the air
exceed 5 DC during summer days.
When the animals were rehydrated
in winter, a drop of 1.3 °c in their body
temperature was recorded. This could be
facilities and support. Thanks to the staff
attributed to the fact that these animals
of the King Khalid Wildlife Research
took an ample amount of water (1099
Center, Taif, for their assistance. Thanks
ml/2h), and water temperature was about
also to Mr. M. Yousuf for technical
4°C. This situation might have lowered
assistance in the lab and typing the
their body temperature for a period of 4
hours. After 10 hours of rehydration,
animals body temperature returned to
normal. The case was different when
Gary, P.C.; Gary, E.R. and Dorsi, H. 1979.
these animals were rehydrated during
in the horse
summer as there was no drop of body
produced by food and water deprivation
temperature. Water temperature was
of high environmental
about 29°C and hence did not affect the
animal body temperature.
Veterinary Research 40: 982-985.
The results obtained in this study,
Ghobrial, L.I. 1967. Physiological
and other reports on desert gazelles
of desert mammals. Ph.D. dissertation,
showing the reaction of these captive-
University of London.
bred Idmi to water deprivation during
1970. The water
winter and summer, indicate that these
desert antelope Gazella dorcas dorcas.
animals could meet their requirements
Physiological Zoology 43: 249-256.
by efficient exploitation of available
resources in their habitat. There is a
requirement of the dorcas gazelle in the
great need of similar studies on wild-
Sudan. Mammalia 38: 88-101.
born generations of Idmi to determine
L.I. and Cloudsley- Thompson,
how long they could withstand high
1996. Effect of deprivation of water on
the dorcas gazelle. Nature 212: 306.
maintain body temperature around its
Acknowledgments: We are thankful
mammals in arid Africa and the Middle
to the National Commission for Wildlife
of Arid Hnvirorments
Louw, G.N. and Seely, M.K. 1982. Ecology of
Symposium of the
Zoological Society of London, 31: 215-
1986. Some effects of water
deprivation on dorcas gazelle (Gazella
1987. Fundamentals of clinical
dorcas dorcas) in the Sudan. M.Y. Sc.
thesis, University of Khartoum.
Brace Jovano-vich Inc.
Williamson, D.T. and De1ina, E. 1990. Water
intake of Arabian
gazelles. Journal of
Gazella gazella to
Arid Environments 21: 371-378.
changes in dietary water. Journal of Arid
Williamson, D.T.; Tatwany, H.; Rietkert, F.E.;
Environments 32: 193-209.
Taylor, C.R. 1970a. Strategies of temperature
Temperature liabi1ityin the Arabian sand
regulation: effect on evaporation on east
gazelle. Proceeding of the International
of Physiology 219: 1131-1135.
Zari, T. and Al-Hazmi,
M. 1993. The body
effects on temperature
regulation of east
temperature and behaviour of the Arabian
African ungulates. American Journal of
Physiology 218(4): 1136-1139.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Biological Science
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