Anatomical, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms of thermoregulation in elephants

Authors

  • Adriana Domínguez-Oliva Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, Xochimilco Campus, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Ciudad de México 04960, Mexico. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1584-0654
  • Marcelo Daniel Ghezzi Animal Welfare Area, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences (FCV). Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (UNCPBA), Argentina.
  • Patricia Mora-Medina Facultad de Estudios Superiores Cuautitlán. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico.
  • Ismael Hernández-Ávalos Facultad de Estudios Superiores Cuautitlán. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico.
  • Joseline Jacome Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, Xochimilco Campus, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Ciudad de México 04960, Mexico.
  • Andrea Castellón Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, Xochimilco Campus, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Ciudad de México 04960, Mexico.
  • Isabel Falcón Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, Xochimilco Campus, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Ciudad de México 04960, Mexico.
  • Fátima Reséndiz Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, Xochimilco Campus, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Ciudad de México 04960, Mexico.
  • Nicole Romero Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, Xochimilco Campus, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Ciudad de México 04960, Mexico.
  • Raúl Ponce Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, Xochimilco Campus, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Ciudad de México 04960, Mexico.
  • Daniel Mota-Rojas Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0562-0367

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.31893/jabb.22033

Keywords:

Loxodonta africana, Elephas maximus, elephant anatomy, thermal state

Abstract

Elephants use different thermoregulatory mechanisms that depend on the anatomical and morphological characteristics of the species. The crevices and wrinkles of the skin enhance the water-retention capacity of the epidermis. The highly vascularized ear is another region of particular interest, as its movement and vasomotor changes promote heat dissipation. Generally, these mechanisms are modulated by the hypothalamic thermoregulatory center and by the peripheral response of animals. Nonetheless, elephants are currently exposed to alterations in their habitats, such as global warming and climatic changes, which challenge their homeothermy. This article aims to discuss the thermoregulation mechanisms of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants from an anatomical, physiological, and behavioral basis. The practical implications of these elements will be analyzed to implement tools, such as infrared thermography, or environmental enrichment, as strategies to promote the thermal balance of elephants.

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Mechanisms of central and peripheral thermoregulation. The image illustrates the integration of the thermal stimuli detected by the corpuscles of Ruffini or Krause in the face of heat or cold, respectively. Although the central pathways in both cases are very similar and use the DRG, POA, MnPO, or rRPA (black lines), the main difference is observed in the LPBN regions that are activated by stimuli of a different nature. The red lines show the thermoregulatory mechanisms in warm environments, where LPBd neurons produce vasodilation. In contrast, with cold stimuli (blue lines), the LPBel neurons are stimulated to generate sympathetic vasoconstriction and stimulate motor fibers that promote shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis. DRG: dorsal root ganglia; LPBd: dorsal part of the lateral parabrachial nucleus; LPBeL: Lateral parabrachial nucleus in its external region; POA: preoptic area of the hypothalamus; MnPO: median preoptic nucleus; MPO: medial preoptic area; DMH: dorsomedial hypothalamus; rRPA: rostral raphe pallidus.

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PUBLISHED: 2022-09-22

How to Cite

Domínguez-Oliva, A., Ghezzi, M. D., Mora-Medina, P., Hernández-Ávalos, I., Jacome, J., Castellón, A., Falcón, I., Reséndiz, F., Romero, N., Ponce, R., & Mota-Rojas, D. (2022). Anatomical, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms of thermoregulation in elephants. Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology, 10(4), 2233. https://doi.org/10.31893/jabb.22033

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