Thermal biology in river buffalo in the humid tropics: neurophysiological and behavioral responses assessed by infrared thermography
Daniel Mota-Rojas, Fabio Napolitano, Ada Braghieri, Isabel Guerrero-Legarreta, Aldo Bertoni, Julio Martínez-Burnes, Rosy Cruz-Monterrosa, Jocelyn Gómez, Efren Ramírez-Bribiesca, Hugo Barrios-García, Nancy José, Adolfo Álvarez, Patricia Mora-Medina, Agustín Orihuela
The present review aims to analyze the effect of extremely hot climates on the neurophysiological responses of thermal control and behavior in the river buffalo. Understanding thermal neuromodulation and its effects on the buffalo’s behavior is of central importance, for this will allow us to make better decisions in terms of improving the level of welfare of buffaloes living in environments characterized by extreme heat, such as the humid tropics. The thermoregulation process involves a complex mechanism that begins with the integration of peripheral signals that are sent to the lateral parabrachial nucleus of the brainstem and then to the preoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus to generate physiological variations such as vasodilatation to dissipate heat under conditions of thermal stress, or vasoconstriction to conserve heat upon the perception of cold stimuli. The thermal biology of the river buffalo is based on several different adaptation mechanisms. The infrared thermography (IRT) technique will be of great help in this area because it permits the detection of vascular microcirculation changes in different thermal windows under adverse climatic conditions. Although buffaloes are classified as rustic animals, it is important to take into account their morpho-physiology and thermoregulation mechanisms to prevent thermal stress and the resulting poor welfare and reduced productivity. However, if appropriate thermoregulation facilities are provided (i.e., ponds, pools, potholes, or swampy areas), buffaloes can properly thermoregulate and tolerate high ambient temperatures. Therefore, they may represent a good option and an appropriate animal-based enterprise under climate change and global warming conditions.
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