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Hibernation-like behavior in Antarctic fish -- on ice for winter
Date:3/5/2008

4 hour light during summer followed by months of winter darkness so the decrease in light during winter may be driving the reduction in metabolic rates.

Dr Keiron Fraser from BAS says,

This is our first insight into how these fish live in winter. We have for the first time in the Antarctic, used cutting edge technologies combining tracking of free swimming fish in the wild and heart rate monitors to allow us to investigate just how these animals cope in winter with living in near freezing water and almost complete darkness for months on end. It appears they utilise the short Antarctic summers to gain sufficient energy from feeding to tide them over in winter. The hibernation-like state they enter in winter is presumably a mechanism for reducing their energy requirements to the bare minimum. The interesting question we still have to answer is why these fish greatly reduce feeding in winter when food is still available.

Why these fish chose to adopt this hibernation-like strategy during winter is currently unclear, but it presumably provides energetic benefits. The traditional views of hibernation are being challenged constantly. This study introduces a new group of animals that appear to utilise a hibernation-like strategy that allows them to survive during the long winters in one of the harshest environments on Earth.


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Contact: Linda Capper
L.capper@bas.ac.uk
44-012-232-21448
British Antarctic Survey
Source:Eurekalert  

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Hibernation-like behavior in Antarctic fish -- on ice for winter
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