Effects of photophase illuminance (1, 10, 100 and 330 lux of white incandescent lighting) on daily rhythms of locomotor activity, urine production and 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (6-SMT; 10 lux vs. 330 lux) were studied in nocturnal Namaqua rock mice (Micaelamys namaquensis) and diurnal four striped field mice (Rhabdomys pumilio). Micaelamys namaquensis was consistently nocturnal (∼90-94% nocturnal activity), whereas considerable individual variation marked activity profiles in R. pumilio, but with activity mostly pronounced around twilight (∼55-66% diurnal activity). The amplitudeof daily activity was distinctly affected by light intensity and this effect was greater in M. namaquensis than in R. pumilio. Only M. namaquensis displayed a distinctive daily rhythm of urine production which correlated with its activity rhythm. Mean daily urine production appears to be attenuated under dim photophase conditions, particularly in R. pumilio. The results suggest that the circadian regulation of locomotor activity and urine production each possesses separate sensitivity thresholds to photophase illuminance. Micaelamys namaquensis expressed a significant daily 6-SMT rhythm that peaked during the late night, but the rhythm was attenuated by the brighter photophase cycle (330 lux). R. pumilio appears to have expressed an ultradian 6-SMT rhythm under both lighting regimes with comparable mean daily 6-SMT values, but with different temporal patterns. It is widely known that a natural dark phase that is undisturbed by artificial light, is essential for optimal circadian function. Here we show that light intensity during the photophase also plays a key role in maintaining circadian rhythms in rodents, irrespective of their temporal activity rhythm.
- Received July 31, 2016.
- Accepted February 14, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd