Aerobic power, huddling and the efficiency of torpor in the South American marsupial, Dromiciops gliroides

Marcela Franco, Carolina Contreras, Pablo Cortés, Mark A. Chappell, Mauricio Soto-Gamboa, Roberto F. Nespolo

Resultado de la investigación: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva

11 Citas (Scopus)


During periods of cold, small endotherms depend on a continuous supply of food and energy to maintain euthermic body temperature (Tb), which can be challenging if food is limited. In these conditions, energy-saving strategies are critical to reduce the energetic requirements for survival. Mammals from temperate regions show a wide arrange of such strategies, including torpor and huddling. Here we provide a quantitative description of thermoregulatory capacities and energy-saving strategies in Dromiciops gliroides, a Microbiotherid marsupial inhabiting temperate rain forests. Unlike many mammals from temperate regions, preliminary studies have suggested that this species has low capacity for control and regulation of body temperature, but there is still an incomplete picture of its bioenergetics. In order to more fully understand the physiological capacities of this "living fossil", we measured its scope of aerobic power and the interaction between huddling and torpor. Specifically, we evaluated: (1) the relation between basal (BMR) and maximum metabolic rate (MMR), and (2) the role of huddling on the characteristics of torpor at different temperatures. We found that BMR and MMR were above the expected values for marsupials and the factorial aerobic scope (from VCO2) was 6.0±0.45 (using VCO2) and 6.2±0.23 (using VO2), an unusually low value for mammals. Also, repeatability of physiological variables was non-significant, as in previous studies, suggesting poor time-consistency of energy metabolism. Comparisons of energy expenditure and body temperature (using attached data-loggers) between grouped and isolated individuals showed that at 20°C both average resting metabolic rate and body temperature were higher in groups, essentially because animals remained non-torpid. At 10°C, however, all individuals became torpid and no differences were observed between grouped and isolated individuals. In summary, our study suggests that the main response of Dromiciops gliroides to low ambient temperature is reduced body temperature and torpor, irrespective of huddling. Low aerobic power and low time-consistency of most thermoregulatory traits of Dromiciops gliroides support the idea of poor thermoregulatory abilities in this species.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)1178-1184
Número de páginas7
PublicaciónBiology Open
EstadoPublicada - 15 dic 2012


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