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Physiol Behav. 2009 Apr 20;97(1):135-40. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.02.012. Epub 2009 Feb 15.

Body mass loss during adaptation to short winter-like days increases food foraging, but not food hoarding.

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Department of Biology and Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302-4010, United States.


Siberian hamsters markedly reduce their body/lipid mass ( approximately 20-45%) in short 'winter-like' days (SD). Decreases in body/lipid mass associated with food deprivation or lipectomy result in increases in foraging and food hoarding. When at their SD-induced body/lipid mass nadir, food hoarding is not increased despite their decreases in body/lipid mass, but hoarding was not tested during the dynamic period of body/lipid mass loss (first 5-6 weeks of SDs). Therefore, we tested for changes in foraging/hoarding during this initial period in Siberian hamsters housed in a simulated burrow with a wheel running-based foraging system and exposed to either long 'summer-like' days (LD) or SDs. Two foraging effort conditions were used: 10 Revolutions/Pellet (pellet delivered after running 10 revolutions) and a Free Wheel/Free Food condition (wheel available, food pellets non-contingently available). Regardless of the foraging condition, body mass was significantly reduced across 8 weeks of SDs ( approximately 15%). Foraging increased after 7 weeks in SDs, but food hoarding did not increase compared to LDs. Instead food hoarding significantly decreased in SDs at Weeks 2-5 compared with Week 0 values, with the 10 Revolutions/Pellet foraging group returning to LD levels thereafter and the Free Wheel/Free Food group remaining reduced from Weeks 2-7. Collectively, we found that SDs decreased body mass, increased foraging after 7 weeks, and increased food hoarding, but only after an initial decrease and not above that seen in LDs. These data suggest that SD-induced body/lipid mass losses do not engender similar behavioral responses as seen with food deprivation or lipectomy.

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