, Volume 183, Issue 4, pp 557-566

The effects of day length, hibernation, and ambient temperature on incisor dentin in the Turkish hamster (Mesocricetus brandti)

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Abstract

Dentin is deposited on a circadian basis, and daily layers manifest as bands on the medial surfaces of rodent incisors. Hibernation alters dentin deposition, and a distinct hibernation mark has been described on incisor surfaces of several rodent species; the factors that influence the morphology of this mark are poorly understood. We tested the effects of day length, torpor expression, and ambient temperature on incisor surface morphology in Turkish hamsters housed in one of four conditions: long days (LDs) at 22 °C, short days (SDs) at 22 °C, SDs at 5 °C, and SDs at 13 °C. Body temperature was monitored continuously with implanted radio transmitters, and teeth examined postmortem. Teeth of SD hamsters had narrower, less distinct circadian increments than those of LD hamsters, but the width of ultradian increments was similar in both photoperiods. Hibernation at both 5 and 13 °C was associated in most specimens with very narrow, sharply defined dentin increments and increased tooth heterogeneity. Hamsters in SDs at 5 °C that did not hibernate lacked characteristic hibernation increments. At 5 °C, but not 13 °C, the number and cumulative width of hibernation increments were related to number and cumulative duration of periodic arousals. Our results suggest that incremental deposition of dentin in rodent incisors may be a useful trait for characterizing hibernation behavior in both evolutionary and historical contexts.

Communicated by G. Heldmaier.