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Behaviour, temperature and terrain slope impact estimates of energy expenditure using oxygen and dynamic body acceleration

Dickinson, E.R. and Stephens, P.A. and Marks, N.J. and Wilson, R.P. and Scantlebury, D.M (2021) 'Behaviour, temperature and terrain slope impact estimates of energy expenditure using oxygen and dynamic body acceleration.', Animal Biotelemetry, 9 . p. 47.


The energy used by animals is influenced by intrinsic (e.g. physiological) and extrinsic (e.g. environmental) factors. Accelerometers within biologging devices have proven useful for assessing energy expenditures and their behavioural context in free-ranging animals. However, certain assumptions are frequently made when acceleration is used as a proxy for energy expenditure, with factors, such as environmental variation (e.g. ambient temperature or slope of terrain), seldom accounted for. To determine the possible interactions between behaviour, energy expenditure and the environment (ambient temperature and terrain slope), the rate of oxygen consumption (V̇O2) was measured in pygmy goats (Capra hircus aegarus) using open-flow indirect calorimetry. The effect of temperature (9.7 to 31.5˚C) on resting energy expenditure was measured. The relationship between V̇O2 and dynamic body acceleration (DBA) was measured at different walking speeds (0.8 to 3.0 km.h-1) and on different inclines (0, +15˚, -15˚). The daily behaviour of individuals was measured in two enclosures: enclosure A (level terrain during summer) and enclosure B (sloped terrain during winter) and per diem energy expenditures of behaviours estimated using behaviour, DBA, temperature, terrain slope and V̇O2. During rest, energy expenditure increased below 22˚C and above 30.5˚C. V̇O2 (ml.min-1) increased with DBA when walking on the level. Walking uphill (+15˚) increased energetic costs three-fold, whereas walking downhill (-15˚) increased energetic costs by one third. Based on these results, although activity levels were higher in animals in enclosure A during summer, energy expenditure was found to be significantly higher in the sloped enclosure B in winter (means of enclosures A and B: 485.3 ± 103.6 and 744.5 ± 132.4 We show that it is essential to account for extrinsic factors when calculating animal energy budgets. Our estimates of the impacts of extrinsic factors should be applicable to other free ranging ungulates.

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Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date accepted:10 November 2021
Date deposited:25 November 2021
Date of first online publication:26 November 2021
Date first made open access:25 November 2021

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