Big Horn Sheep Temperature Regulation
Music; Ambience: Desert wind, Canyon stream
JM: You’ve seen pictures of Big Horn sheep they’re even on the front bumper of trucks advertised as being “Ram Tough”. Well these guys are tough, they’ve got to be to be to survive in hot desert environment. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
MJ: One ability they have is to allow their body temperature to rise above the air temperature around them.
JM: Biologist Mark Jorgensen is a retired Superintendent at Anza-Borrego Desert State park in Southern California.
MJ: You and I need to maintain our body temperature and our brain at, you know, ninety-eight point six. If it’s one hundred and five degrees out, and our body temperate it ninety-eight point six, that means we have to perspire. We go to the shade, we drink lots of water, we also have to perspire to keep our body core temperature below critical levels.
JM: Big Horn sheep can go for extended periods of time without water, and it’s their ability to have a variable body temperature that enables them to do this.
MJ: If we could allow our body temperature to rise to one hundred and six, and it’s actually warmer than the one-o-five outside, our body would be giving heat off to the environment. That means we wouldn’t have to be sweating, consuming a lot of precious moisture inside our body. That’s what the big horn sheep can do, is its body temperature can rise with the ambient temperature outside and actually give heat off.
JM: That’s the sound of water flowing through a desert canyon. Without water, a human can die in 90 minutes in the extreme hot conditions of the desert. A big horn sheep can go several days in the summer without taking a drink.
JM: We’ll hear more on desert big horn sheep in future programs. Our thanks to California Environmental Legacy Project at the Sacramento State University. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.