Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2000 Mar;278(3):R698-704.

Regulation of body temperature and energy requirements of hibernating alpine marmots (Marmota marmota).

Author information

German Institute of Human Nutrition, D-14558 Bergholz-Rehbr├╝cke, Germany.


Body temperature and metabolic rate were recorded continuously in two groups of marmots either exposed to seasonally decreasing ambient temperature (15 to 0 degrees C) over the entire hibernation season or to short-duration temperature changes during midwinter. Hibernation bouts were characterized by an initial 95% reduction of metabolic rate facilitating the drop in body temperature and by rhythmic fluctuations during continued hibernation. During midwinter, we observed a constant minimal metabolic rate of 13.6 ml O(2) x kg(-1) x h(-1) between 5 and 15 degrees C ambient temperature, although body temperature increased from 7.8 to 17.6 degrees C, and a proportional increase of metabolic rate below 5 degrees C ambient temperature. This apparent lack of a Q(10) effect shows that energy expenditure is actively downregulated and controlled at a minimum level despite changes in body temperature. However, thermal conductance stayed minimal (7.65 +/- 1.95 ml O(2) x kg(-1) x h(-1) x degrees C(-1)) at all temperatures, thus slowing down cooling velocity when entering hibernation. Basal metabolic rate of summer-active marmots was double that of winter-fasting marmots (370 vs. 190 ml O(2) x kg(-1) x h(-1)). In summary, we provide strong evidence that hibernation is not only a voluntary but a well-regulated strategy to counter food shortage and increased energy demands during winter.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center