Characterizing traits critical for adaptation to a given environment is an important first step in understanding how phenotypes evolve. How animals adapt to the extreme heat and aridity commonplace to deserts represents is an exceptionally interesting example of these processes, and has been the focus of study for decades. In contrast to those studies, where experiments are conducted on either wild animals or captive animals held in non-desert conditions, the study described here leverages a unique environmental chamber that replicates desert conditions for captive Peromyscus eremicus (cactus mouse). Here we establish baseline values for daily water intake and for serum electrolytes, as well as the response of these variables to experimental dehydration. In brief, P. eremicus ’ daily water intake is very low. It’s serum electrolytes are distinct from many previously studied animals, and its response to acute dehydration is profound, though not suggestive of renal impairment, which is atypical of mammals.
Summary statement The establishment of baseline values for serum electrolytes and water intake, as well as their response to acute dehydration is critical for characterizing the physiology necessary for desert survival.
Conflict of Interest Statement The authors declare no conflict of interest.