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Title: Basking hamsters reduce resting metabolism, body temperature and energy costs during rewarming from torpor
Contributor(s): Geiser, Fritz  (author)orcid ; Gasch, Kristina (author); Bieber, Claudia (author); Stalder, Gabrielle L (author); Gerritsmann, Hanno (author); Ruf, Thomas (author)
Publication Date: 2016
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.137828Open Access Link
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Abstract: Basking can substantially reduce thermoregulatory energy expenditure of mammals. We tested the hypothesis that the largely white winter fur of hamsters ('Phodopus sungorus'), originating from Asian steppes,may be related to camouflage to permit sun basking on or near snow. Winter-acclimated hamsters in our study were largely white and had a high proclivity to bask when resting and torpid. Resting hamsters reduced metabolic rate (MR) significantly (>30%) when basking at ambient temperatures (Tₐ) of ~15 and 0°C. Interestingly, body temperature (Tb) also was significantly reduced from 34.7±0.6°C (Tₐ 15°C, not basking) to 30.4±2.0°C (Tₐ 0°C, basking), which resulted in an extremely low (<50% of predicted) apparent thermal conductance. Induced torpor (food withheld) during respirometry at Tₐ 15°C occurred on 83.3±36.0% of days and the minimum torpor MR was 36% of basal MR at an average Tb of 22.0±2.6°C; movement to the basking lamp occurred at Tb<20.0°C. Energy expenditure for rewarming was significantly reduced (by >50%) during radiant heat-assisted rewarming; however, radiant heat per se without an endogenous contribution by animals did not strongly affect metabolism and Tb during torpor. Our data show that basking substantially modifies thermal energetics in hamsters, with a drop of resting Tb and MR not previously observed and a reduction of rewarming costs. The energy savings afforded by basking in hamsters suggest that this behaviour is of energetic significance not only for mammals living in deserts, where basking is common, but also for 'P. sungorus' and probably other cold-climate mammals.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: The Journal of Experimental Biology, 219(14), p. 2166-2172
Publisher: The Company of Biologists Ltd
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1477-9145
Field of Research (FOR): 060899 Zoology not elsewhere classified
060806 Animal Physiological Ecology
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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