Analysis of heart rate control to assess thermal sensitivity responses in Brazilian toads


Braz J Med Biol Res




In anurans, changes in ambient temperature influence body temperature and, therefore, energy consumption. These changes ultimately affect energy supply and, consequently, heart rate (HR). Typically, anurans living in different thermal environments have different thermal sensitivities, and these cannot be distinguished by changes in HR. We hypothesized that Rhinella jimi (a toad from a xeric environment that lives in a wide range of temperatures) would have a lower thermal sensitivity regarding cardiac control than R. icterica (originally from a tropical forest environment with a more restricted range of ambient temperatures). Thermal sensitivity was assessed by comparing animals housed at 15° and 25°C. Cardiac control was estimated by heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate complexity (HRC). Differences in HRV between the two temperatures were not significant (P=0.214 for R. icterica and P=0.328 for R. jimi), whereas HRC differences were. All specimens but one R. jimi had a lower HRC at 15°C (all P<0.01). These results indicate that R. jimi has a lower thermal sensitivity and that cardiac control is not completely dependent on the thermal environment because HRC was not consistently different between temperatures in all R. jimi specimens. This result indicates a lack of evolutive trade-offs among temperatures given that heart rate control at 25°C is potentially not a constraint to heart rate control at 15°C.

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