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Fat and fit
Date:10/22/2013

er, the fatter dormice used their extra reserves to increase their metabolic rate more frequently and spend more time at normal body temperature during hibernation. This strategy seems to enable dormice to minimize the negative effects of torpor while maximizing the total hibernation time.

Why should animals prefer to hibernate underground when outside temperatures would allow them to forage without energetic constraints? The researchers explain this with a beneficial side-effect of hibernation: hidden underground, dormice are not easily found by predators and thus have a higher chance of survival. As long as the dormice do not have to emerge to find a partner and reproduce, they are better off in their subterranean hideouts. A broader implication of the result is that climatic conditions are not the only factor that influences the duration of hibernation. Climate change could therefore affect hibernators quite differently from how we might expect.


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Contact: Susanna Kautschitsch
susanna.kautschitsch@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-125-077-1153
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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