School seminar series: Multiple functions of hibernation and daily torpor

12 April 2013

Fritz Geiser (Centre for Behavioural and Physiological Ecology, Zoology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

Although energy conservation by cold-climate adult endotherms in winter is often viewed as the main function of torpor, recent evidence suggests that this may not always be the case and other functions of torpor may be equally or even more important in some instances. Daily torpor and hibernation, which are used by mammals and birds from all climate zones, permit prolonged female sperm storage in bats, allow reproduction with limited or fluctuating food supply, and delay parturition until more favourable periods. Torpor appears to increase the efficiency of energy and nutrient use during development and also enhances fat storage during migration. Further, torpor reduces water requirements, appears to ensure persistence during droughts, permits co-existence of competing species, and also reduces the risk of predation and mammalian extinctions. Thus, the functions of torpor are diverse and go well beyond energy conservation in winter.

Followed by lunch at the Grandstand ($5 students, $10 staff) - please RSVP to Shawn by 5pm Thursday if you wish to come along

Time: 1-2pm

Location: DT Anderson Lecture Theatre, A08