The impacts of warming temperatures associated with climate change on performance are poorly understood in most mammals. Thermal performance curves are a valuable means of examining the effects of temperature on performance traits, but they have rarely been used in endotherms. Here, we examined the thermal performance curve of endurance running capacity at high temperatures in the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus). Endurance capacity was measured using an incremental speed test on a treadmill, and subcutaneous temperature in the abdominal region was measured as a proxy for body temperature (Tb). Endurance time at 20°C was repeatable but varied appreciably across individuals, and was unaffected by sex or body mass. Endurance capacity was maintained across a broad range of ambient temperatures (Ta) but was reduced above 35°C. Tb during running varied with Ta, and reductions in endurance were associated with Tb greater than 40°C when Ta was above 35°C. At the high Ta that limited endurance running capacity (but not at lower Ta), Tb tended to rise throughout running trials with increases in running speed. Metabolic and thermoregulatory measurements at rest showed that Tb, evaporative water loss and breathing frequency increased at Ta of 36°C and above. Therefore, the upper threshold temperatures at which endurance capacity is impaired are similar to those inducing heat responses at rest in this species. These findings help discern the mechanisms by which deer mice are impacted by warming temperatures, and provide a general approach for examining thermal breadth of performance in small mammals.

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