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Naturwissenschaften. 2006 Feb;93(2):80-3. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

Deep, prolonged torpor by pregnant, free-ranging bats.

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1
Centre for Behavioural and Physiological Ecology, Zoology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia. willis1c@pobox.une.edu.au

Abstract

Many mammals save energy during food shortage or harsh weather using controlled reductions in body temperature and metabolism called torpor. However, torpor slows offspring growth, and reproductive individuals are thought to avoid using it because of reduced fitness resulting from delayed offspring development. We tested this hypothesis by investigating torpor during reproduction in hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus, Vespertilionidae) in southern Canada. We recorded deep, prolonged torpor bouts, which meet the definition for hibernation, by pregnant females. Prolonged torpor occurred during spring storms. When conditions improved females aroused and gave birth within several days. Our observations imply a fitness advantage of torpor in addition to energy conservation because reduced foetal growth rate could delay parturition until conditions are more favourable for lactation and neonatal survival.

PMID:
16456644
DOI:
10.1007/s00114-005-0063-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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