The effectiveness of behavioural thermoregulation in reptiles is amplified by cardiovascular responses, particularly by differential rates of heart beat in response to heating and cooling (heart-rate hysteresis). Heart-rate hysteresis is ecologically important in most lineages of ectothermic reptile, and we demonstrate that heart-rate hysteresis in the lizard Pogona vitticeps is mediated by prostaglandins. In a control treatment (administration of saline), heart rates during heating were significantly faster than during cooling at any given body temperature. When cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 enzymes were inhibited, heart rates during heating were not significantly different from those during cooling. Administration of agonists showed that thromboxane B2 did not have a significant effect on heart rate, but prostacyclin and prostaglandin F2a caused a significant increase (3.5 and 13.6 beats min-1, respectively) in heart rate compared with control treatments. We speculate that heart-rate hysteresis evolved as a thermoregulatory mechanism that may ultimately be controlled by neurally induced stimulation of nitric oxide production, or maybe via photolytically induced production of vitamin D.
↵† Both authors contributed in equal part to this work.