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Torpor in small carnivorous mammals

Walbeek, T.J. (2011) Torpor in small carnivorous mammals. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Torpor is a temporary state of decreased metabolic rate which is followed by a drop in body temperature. Daily torpor is often observed and described in small mammals, especially during winter. In this review we looked for both ultimate and proximate factors related to daily torpor. Our research question was: Can we understand that some mammals go into torpor and others don’t and which factors trigger torpor? We focused on small carnivorous mammals. We found that saving energy is likely the most important reason for torpor. The evolutionary need to save energy can be associated with an increase in life time expectancy, an investment in prey availability for other seasons or saving energy on its own in periods with relative low food availability. As triggers we found food and temperature to be the most important factors. Reduced ambient temperature or food availability both increase the amount of torpor and bout length. Other factors as weather and photoperiod also seem to have their influence, but they can all be correlated with food or temperature. Most mammals don’t often show torpor during breeding season, for this there is not yet a clear explanation.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:45
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:45

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