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Linking resting metabolism, activity and survival in heterothermic mammals

Last update: : Wednesday 22 February 2017, by Nicolas Busser

Par : Christopher Turbill, Western Sydney University
Date : jeudi 20 avril 2017 de 16h à 17h30
Lieu : IPHC, Amphithéâtre Grünewald, bâtiment 25

Torpor – a controlled reduction in resting body temperature and metabolism – provides a mechanism for mammals and birds to reduce their daily energy requirements. At one extreme, hibernation allows small endothermic animals to remain dormant over an entire winter season. At the other, even shallow torpor during resting can provide energy savings that have relevant effects on daily foraging requirements. Our research aims to integrate thermoregulatory effects on resting energy expenditure with foraging behaviour and survival rates in relation to environmental conditions. We study these relationships using comparative analyses, field observations and controlled experiments, and explain variation at species, population and individual levels. Our results suggest that, to understand the relevance of resting metabolism to behavioural ecology, we should move beyond its characterisation as a single, static trait (e.g. BMR) and consider metabolic responses to environmental (food, temperature) and intrinsic conditions. We show that energy savings from varying degrees of torpor use by mammals are relevant in modulating decisions about foraging activity and have important life-history outcomes.