Pineal Function in Sparrows: Circadian Rhythms and Body Temperature

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Science  15 Oct 1971:
Vol. 174, Issue 4006, pp. 311-314
DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4006.311


Deep body temperature of the house sparrow, Passer domesticus, was monitored continuously by radio telemetry. Pinealectomy abolished the normal circadian rhythm of body temperature in constant darkness, and significantly altered the amplitude of body temperature rhythms entrained to light cycles. The body temperature minima of pinealectomized birds never fell as low as those of unoperated birds regardless of the light conditions; the temperature maxima of both normal and pinealectomized birds were higher in light than in darkness. In sparrows the pineal organ is essential to the normal function of the biological clock controlling both activity and body temperature rhythms and may be directly involved in thermoregulation.