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Title: Seasonal changes in the thermoenergetics of the marsupial sugar glider, 'Petaurus breviceps'
Contributor(s): Holloway, J. C. (author); Geiser, Fritz  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2001
DOI: 10.1007/s003600100215
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Abstract: Little information is available on seasonal changes in thermal physiology and energy expenditure in marsupials. To provide new information on the subject, we quantified how body mass, body composition, metabolic rate, maximum heat production, body temperature and thermal conductance change with season in sugar gliders ('Petaurus breviceps') held in outdoor aviaries. Sugar gliders increased body mass in autumn to a peak in May/June, which was caused to a large extent by an increase in body fat content. Body mass then declined to minimum values in August/September. Resting metabolic rate both below and above the thermoneutral zone (TNZ) was higher in summer than in winter and the lower critical temperature of the TNZ occurred at a higher ambient temperature (Ta) in summer. The basal metabolic rate was as much as 45% below that predicted from allometric equations for placental mammals and was about 15% lower in winter than in summer. In contrast, maximum heat production was raised significantly by about 20% in winter. This, together with an approximately 20% decrease in thermal conductance, resulted in a 13°C reduction of the minimum effective Ta gliders were able to withstand. Our study provides the first evidence that, despite the apparent lack of functional brown adipose tissue, sugar gliders are able to significantly increase heat production in winter. Moreover, the lower thermoregulatory heat production at most Tas in winter, when food in the wild is scarce, should allow them to reduce energy expenditure.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology, 171(8), p. 643-650
Publisher: Springer
Place of Publication: Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany
ISSN: 0174-1578
Field of Research (FOR): 060604 Comparative Physiology
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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