The Virtual Reptile: Mathematical Models and Simulations of Thermoregulatory Strategy (pp. 197-212)
Authors: (John G. Alford, Sam Houston State University, TX, USA)
Abstract: In this chapter we consider a qualitative mathematical model for the locomotion of a thermoregulating whiptail lizard. The model is used to investigate thermoregulatory behavior in both a deterministic (non-random) and stochastic (random) thermal environment that fluctuates with time. Parameters in the model control the lizard’s speed and the thermal quality of the lizard’s habitat. We define the net benefit of thermoregulation as it relates to the benefit of maintaining a preferred body temperature and the cost of locomotion. After solving the model equations, we investigate how the solutions mimic thermoregulatory behavior. We also determine a thermoregulatory strategy that maximizes the net benefit in terms of both lizard speed and habitat quality. Although the model in this chapter is a theoretical mathematical model and the results are not compared with experimental data, we hope to show that it has value as a predictive (or at the very least, thought provoking) tool in theoretical ecology.