Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/1959.11/20029
Title: Cool echidnas survive the fire
Contributor(s): Nowack, Julia  (author); Cooper, Christine Elizabeth (author); Geiser, Fritz  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2016
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0382Open Access Link
Handle Link: https://hdl.handle.net/1959.11/20029
Abstract: Fires have occurred throughout history, including those associated with the meteoroid impact at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) boundary that eliminated many vertebrate species. To evaluate the recent hypothesis that the survival of the K-Pg fires by ancestral mammals was dependent on their ability to use energy-conserving torpor,we studied body temperature fluctuations and activity of an egg-laying mammal, the echidna ('Tachyglossus aculeatus'), often considered to be a 'living fossil', before, during and after a prescribed burn. All but one study animal survived the fire in the prescribed burn area and echidnas remained inactive during the day(s) following the fire and substantially reduced body temperature during bouts of torpor. For weeks after the fire, all individuals remained in their original territories and compensated for changes in their habitat with a decrease in mean body temperature and activity. Our data suggest that heterothermy enables mammals to outlast the conditions during and after a fire by reducing energy expenditure, permitting periods of extended inactivity. Therefore, torpor facilitates survival in a fire-scorched landscape and consequently may have been of functional significance for mammalian survival at the K-Pg boundary.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283(1828), p. 1-8
Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1471-2954
0962-8452
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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