Document Type


Publication Date



We studied circadian rhythms of body temperature and locomotor activity in antelope ground squirrels (Ammospermophilus leucurus) under laboratory conditions of a 12L:12D light-dark cycle and in constant darkness. Antelope ground squirrels are diurnally active and, exceptionally among ground squirrels and other closely related members of the squirrel family in general, they do not hibernate. Daily oscillations in body temperature consisted of a rise in temperature during the daytime activity phase of the circadian cycle and a decrease in temperature during the nighttime rest phase. The body temperature rhythms were robust (71% of maximal strength) with a daily range of oscillation of 4.6 °C, a daytime mean of 38.7 °C, and a nighttime mean of 34.1 °C (24-h overall mean 36.4 °C). The body temperature rhythm persisted in continuous darkness with a free-running period of 24.2 hours. This pattern is similar to that of hibernating species of ground squirrels but with a wave form more similar to that of non-hibernating rodents. Daily oscillations in body temperature were correlated with individual bouts of activity, but daytime temperatures were higher than nighttime temperatures even when comparing short episodes of nocturnal activity that were as intense as diurnal activity. This suggests that although muscular thermogenesis associated with locomotor activity can modify the level of body temperature, the circadian rhythm of body temperature is not simply a consequence of the circadian rhythm of activity.