Navigation Links
Why bats, rats and cats store different amounts of fat

Animals differ in the amount of fat they carry around depending on their species, status and sex. However, the causes of much of this variation have been a mystery. The Bristol study shows that many differences can be understood by considering the strategies animals employ to avoid two causes of death: starvation and being killed by predators.

These causes of death often exert opposite pressures on animals, for example, storing lots of fat helps animals survive periods without food but also slows their running and so makes getting caught by a predator more likely. Animals can be stronger to compensate, but the energetic costs of extra muscle mean that the animal would starve quicker during a food shortage.

Led by Dr Andrew Higginson of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, the researchers used mathematical models to explore how much muscle and fat animals should have in their body to give themselves the best chance of survival. They showed that an important consideration was how much carrying fat increases the energetic costs of movement. The models revealed that the size of this cost influenced whether larger animals should have more fat than smaller animals, or vice versa.

Dr Higginson said: "Our results explain differences between different families of mammal. For example, larger bats carry proportionally less fat than small bats but larger carnivores carry more fat than small carnivores. Among rodents, it's the medium-sized species that carry around the most fat! These differences agree with the models predictions if you consider the costs of carrying fat for these three groups. Bats fly and so have high costs of carrying extra weight, whilst carnivores spend much of their time resting and so will use less energy than busy scurrying rodents."

The work, published in The American Naturalist, also shows that much of the variation between animals in their amounts of fat and muscle can be explained by differences between the sexes, how much animals have to fight to get food, and the climate in which they live.

The researchers plan to put the theory to the test by looking in more detail at the amounts of fat stored by different animals. If their theory is correct, much of the mystery in how species and sexes differ in their amount of fat will have been solved.

Contact: Hannah Johnson
University of Bristol

Related biology news :

1. Bats, dolphins, and mole rats inspire advances in ultrasound technology
2. Gene therapy restores vision to mice with retinal degeneration
3. Transplanted fat cells restore function after spinal cord injury
4. An underwater drugstore?
5. Why do women store fat differently from men?
6. Pacific Northwest forests could store more carbon, help address greenhouse issues
7. Researchers restore missing protein in rare genetic brain disorder
8. Prolonged stress sparks ER to release calcium stores and induce cell death in aging-related diseases
9. Green tea component may help preserve stored platelets, tissues
10. Experimental treatments restore partial vision to blind people
11. Artificial muscles restore ability to blink, save eyesight
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/4/2015)... 4, 2015 --> ... published by Transparency Market Research "Home Security Solutions Market - ... 2015 - 2022", the global home security solutions market is expected ... 2022. The market is estimated to expand at a ... to 2022. Rising security needs among customers at homes, ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Va. , Oct. 29, 2015 Daon, ... today that it has released a new version of ... customers in North America have ... IdentityX v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF certified ... are already preparing to activate FIDO features. These customers ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... YORK , Oct. 29, 2015 ... technology, announced a partnership with 2XU, a global ... to deliver a smart hat with advanced bio-sensing ... and other athletes to monitor key biometrics to ... the strategic partnership, the two companies will bring together ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... November 28, 2015 , ... • Jeon Jin Bio Corp, a Korean ... control solutions , Bird Free, an oil-based, ... all sensory modalities including visual, smell, taste and touch, enabling safe, effective avian control ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... Pittsburgh, PA (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 ... ... Technical Program that includes over 2,000 technical presentations offered in symposia, ... analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy, covers a wide range of applications such as, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... --> Accutest Research Laboratories, ... Contract Research Organization (CRO), has formed ... Cancer Center - Temple Health for ... ,     (Photo: ) , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 --> ... - 2020 report analyzes that automating biobanking workflow ... in long-term samples, minimizing manual errors, improving the ... manual errors such as mislabeling or inaccurate sample ... plays a vital role in blood fractionation, DNA ...
Breaking Biology Technology: