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Title: Development of thermoregulation and torpor in a marsupial: energetic and evolutionary implications
Contributor(s): Geiser, F  (author)orcid ; Westman, W (author); McAllan, BM (author); Brigham, RM (author)
Publication Date: 2006
DOI: 10.1007/s00360-005-0026-y
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Abstract: Altricial mammals and birds become endothermic at about half the size of adults and presumably would benefit energetically from entering torpor at that time. Because little is known about torpor during development in endotherms, we investigated whether after the establishment of endothermic thermoregulation (i.e. the ability to maintain a high body temperature during cold exposure), 'Sminthopsis macroura', a small (~25 g) insectivorous marsupial, is capable of entering torpor and whether torpor patterns change with growth. Endothermic thermoregulation was established when the nest young reached a body mass of ~10 g, and they were capable of entering torpor early during development at ~10–12 g, lending some support to the view that torpor is a phylogenetically old mammalian trait. Torpor bout length shortened significantly and the minimum metabolic rate during torpor increased as juveniles approached adult size, and consequently total daily energy expenditure increased steeply with age. Relationships between total daily energy expenditure and body mass during development of 'S. macroura' (slope ~1.3) differed substantially from the relationship between basal metabolism and body mass in adult endotherms (slope !0.75) suggesting that the energy expenditure–size relationship during the development differs substantially from that in adults under thermo-neutral conditions. Our study shows that while torpor can substantially reduce energy expenditure during development of endotherms and hence is likely important for survival during energy bottlenecks, it also may enhance somatic growth when food is limited. We therefore hypothesize that torpor during the development in endotherms is far more widespread than is currently appreciated.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology, 176(2), p. 107-116
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Place of Publication: 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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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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