Body surface area and thermoregulation in giraffes

Citation data:

Journal of Arid Environments, ISSN: 0140-1963, Vol: 145, Page: 35-42

Publication Year:
Usage 14
Abstract Views 14
Captures 14
Readers 14
Mentions 7
News Mentions 4
Blog Mentions 3
Social Media 44
Tweets 44
Graham Mitchell, Sybrand van Sittert, David Roberts, Duncan Mitchell
Elsevier BV
Agricultural and Biological Sciences, Environmental Science, Earth and Planetary Sciences
Most Recent Tweet View All Tweets
Most Recent Blog Mention
Most Recent News Mention
article description
One of several hypotheses for the evolution of the shape of giraffes is that it evolved to maximize heat loss via a high surface area to mass ratio. We calculated the surface area (SA) of the head, neck, trunk and upper legs, and the lower legs in 60 giraffes of both sexes and a body mass range of 141–1358 kg. No sex differences were found for giraffes of equivalent body mass. Relative surface area (cm 2  kg −1 body mass) declined from 145 in juvenile giraffes to 90 in adults. Average total body SA was 7.3 ± 2.5 m 2 (range 2.2–11.7), which is not significantly different to that of mammals of equivalent mass. The extra area of the neck and legs was offset by smaller trunk area. However, the narrow diameters of the neck and lower legs enhance the rate of convective and evaporative heat loss and reduce the incident solar radiant heat load when giraffe face the sun, a behaviour supplemented by seeking shade if it is available. We have concluded that giraffes do not have an unusually large SA for their mass, but their shape confers other thermoregulatory benefits that have advantages for survival in the arid habitat they prefer.

This article has 0 Wikipedia mention.