Does thermal convection occur in mammalian burrows during the night? Academic Article uri icon


  • Burrowing is a common habit of mammals in arid zones, yet knowledge of environmental conditions within animal burrows, and especially of the way burrows are ventilated, is scarce. The ventilation rate of a burrow controls air composition within the burrow by driving gas exchange between the lower part of the burrow where the animal typically lives, and the atmosphere. Ventilation can be achieved by the following mechanisms:(1) diffusion;(2) external winds;(3) movement of the inhabitant within the burrow (the'piston-effect'); and (4) natural thermal convection, a process by which a natural thermal gradient between burrow and atmosphere creates a density gradient which induces air flow. Here we investigate the role of thermal convection in burrow ventilation. For this purpose, artificial burrows (65 cm in depth and 7 cm in diameter) were drilled in loess soil in the Negev Desert of Israel and a …

publication date

  • January 1, 2010