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Title: The functional requirements of mammalian hair: a compromise between crypsis and thermoregulation?
Contributor(s): Wacker, Chris (author); McAllan, Bronwyn M (author); Koertner, Gerhard  (author)orcid ; Geiser, Fritz  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2016
DOI: 10.1007/s00114-016-1376-x
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Abstract: Mammalian fur often shows agouti banding with a proximal dark band near the skin and a lighter distal band. We examined the function of both bands in relation to camouflage, thermal properties of pelts, and thermal energetics of dunnarts ('Sminthopsis crassicaudata'), which are known to use torpor and basking. Although the distal band of dunnart fur darkened with increasing latitude, which is important for camouflage, it did not affect the thermal properties and the length of the dark band and total hair length were not correlated. In contrast, the length of the proximal dark band of preserved pelts exposed to sunlight was positively correlated (r² = 0.59) with the temperature underneath the pelt (Tpelt). All dunnarts offered radiant heat basked by exposing the dark band of the hair during both rest and torpor. Basking dunnarts with longer dark bands had lower resting metabolism (r² = 0.69), warmed faster from torpor (r² = 0.77), required less energy to do so (r² = 0.32), and reached a higher subcutaneous temperature (Tsub) at the end of rewarming (r² = 0.75). We provide the first experimental evidence on the possible dual function of the color banding of mammalian fur. The distal colored band appears to be important for camouflage, whereas the length of the dark proximal hair band facilitates heat gain for energy conservation and allows animals to rewarm quickly and economically from torpor.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: The Science of Nature: nautrwissenschaften, 103(7-8), p. 1-9
Publisher: Springer
Place of Publication: Germany
ISSN: 0028-1042
Field of Research (FOR): 060806 Animal Physiological Ecology
060899 Zoology not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
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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