Differences in daily torpor patterns among three southeastern species ofPeromyscus
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Three subspecies ofPeromyscus inhabiting the montane, foothill, and coastal plain regions of the Carolinas were trapped in midwinter and the occurrence of spontaneous and ration-induced daily torpor was monitored via biotelemetric determination of body temperature. All tests were undertaken with field-caught mice that were subjected to a minimum of laboratory acclimation (two days). The tendency to enter torpor in the presence of adequate food was highest inP. maniculatus nubiterrae, whose natural montane habitat presents it with the greatest seasonal stress in terms of ambient temperature and food availability. This species exhibited significantly (P<0.05) longer spontaneous torpor bouts than did the two lowland subspecies,P. gossypinus gossypinus andP. leucopus leucopus (Table 1). Restriction of food to one-half thead libitum level increased the frequency, duration, and depth (mean minimum body temperature) of torpor in all three species (Fig. 1).P. maniculatus, however, displayed significantly (P<0.001) longer episodes of torpor induced by rationing than did either of the other two subspecies. The ability to compensate for a reduction in energy intake by adjusting levels of energy utilization may profoundly affect survival during short-term environmental stress in any of these three species.
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