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Daily hypothermia in captive grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus): effects of photoperiod and food restriction.

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CNRS UMR 8571, MNHN, Laboratoire d'Ecologie Générale, 4 avenue du Petit Château, Brunoy F-91800, France.


The grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) is a small nocturnal primate exhibiting daily torpor. In constant ambient temperature (22-24 degrees C), body temperature (Tb) and locomotor activity were monitored by telemetry in animals exposed to short (SP: 10 h light/day) or long (LP: 14 light/day) photoperiods. They were first fed ad libitum for 8 days and then subjected to 80% restricted feeding for 8 more days. During ad libitum feeding, locomotor activity was significantly lower in SP-exposed animals than in LP-exposed animals. Whatever the photoperiod, animals entered daily hypothermia within the first hours following the light onset. Depth of daily hypothermia increased irregularly under SP exposure, whereas minimal daily Tb was constantly above 35 degrees C under LP exposure. After the transfer from long photoperiod to short photoperiod corresponding to the induction of seasonal fattening, locomotor activity and depth of controlled daily hypothermia did not change significantly. In contrast, food restriction led to a significant increase in locomotor activity and in frequency of daily torpor (Tb<33 degrees C) and body temperature reached minimum values averaging 25 degrees C. However, SP-exposed animals exhibited lower minimal daily Tb and higher torpor duration than LP exposed animals. Therefore, daily torpor appears as a rapid response to food restriction occurring whatever the photoperiod, although enhanced by short photoperiod.

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