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Bondarenko D. A., Peregontsev E. A. Thermal Biology and Dayly Activity of Central Asian Tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii) (Testudinidae, Reptilia). Current Studies in Herpetology, 2019, vol. 19, iss. , pp. 17-30. DOI:

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Thermal Biology and Dayly Activity of Central Asian Tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii) (Testudinidae, Reptilia)


The data on the thermal biology and daily activity of the Central Asian tortoise Agrionemys horsfiedii have been generalized on the basis of our own research and literature information. A description of the daily activity cycles with the body and environmental temperatures characterized is proposed. There are 8 periods of the daily activity and thermoregulatory behavior. According to our measurement data of the tortoise’s  cloacal temperature, their egress from their burrows takes place under a minimum body temperature of 9.4°С and a minimum substrate one of 11.8ºС. A significant correlation is traced between the body and environmental temperatures in the periods of egress and heating. It is equally high for both air temperature (r = 0.86–0.67) and ground surface one (r = 0.88–0.75). In the morning, the spontaneous body temperature of Agrionemys horsfiedii was varying within 22.1–38.0°С at the mean value of 30.5±0.3°С. The mean values were statistically insignificant in females, males and immature individuals. 76% of active individuals had their body temperature within the range of 28.0–35.9°С. In this period of activity the body temperature keeps a high correlation with the substrate temperature only (r = 0.72). The evening (afternoon) activity depended on the ground temperature weaker than on the air temperature. During the cooling down the relation between the body and substrate temperatures rose again (r = 0.68), as during the morning heating, although it didn’t reach such a power. During the bimodal activity cycle, fewer tortoises were observed in their evening peak than in the morning one. That is why we should ig-nore evening counts to correctly estimate the population density. From the middle of May the substrate temperature rapidly rises above 40°С in the morning and protractedly remaining till the evening. Such a temperature regime leads to an “acute” time deficit for feed activity. Even in the presence of food the high environmental temperature doesn’t allow the Central Asian tortoise to eat it. The absence of forage re-serve and high temperature make the continuation of its activity impossible in the summer period.


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