To keep cool in the Australian Outback animals have developed many techniques to shed excess body heat. Scientists investigating such thermoregulation behaviors discovered an ingenious method used by koalas.(Koala chilling in a tree. Image Credit: thekoala,com)
They realized that many of the trees in which koalas lounge during heat waves were actually several degree cooler than the ambient air. As such, a Koala could conserve 50% of the water it would utilize to keep cool without a tree to “hug”.(Thermal image of koala on cooler tree branch, Image Credit: Natalie J. Briscoe et al.)
The tree with the greatest temperature difference was the acacia. Though Koalas don’t eat acacia leaves, their cooling effects might represent an important “micro-habitat” for Koalas on hot days. Scientists also suspect that these trees serve as cool oases for other species as well.
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