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Naturwissenschaften

, 96:609 | Cite as

Torpor and energetic consequences in free-ranging grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus): a comparison of dry and wet forests

  • J. Schmid
  • J. R. Speakman
Original Paper

Abstract

Many endotherms save energy during food and water shortage or unpredictable environment using controlled reductions in body temperature and metabolism called torpor. In this study, we measured energy metabolism and water turnover in free-ranging grey mouse lemurs Microcebus murinus (approximately 60 g) using doubly labelled water during the austral winter in the rain forest of southeastern Madagascar. We then compared patterns of thermal biology between grey mouse lemurs from the rain forest and a population from the dry forest. M. murinus from the rain forest, without a distinct dry season, entered daily torpor independent of ambient temperature (T a). There were no differences in torpor occurrence, duration and depth between M. murinus from the rain and dry forest. Mouse lemurs using daily torpor reduced their energy expenditure by 11% in the rain forest and by 10.5% in the dry forest, respectively. There was no significant difference in the mean water flux rates of mouse lemurs remaining normothermic between populations of both sites. In contrast, mean water flux rate of individuals from the dry forest that used torpor was significantly lower than those from the rain forest. This study represents the first account of energy expenditure, water flux and skin temperature (T sk) in free-ranging M. murinus from the rain forest. Our comparative findings suggest that water turnover and therefore water requirement during the austral winter months plays a more restricting role on grey mouse lemurs from the dry forest than on those from the rain forest.

Keywords

Microcebus murinus Madagascar Doubly labelled water Torpor Water turnover 

Abbreviations

DEE

daily energy expenditure

ΔT

mean temperature difference

RMR

resting metabolic rate

Ta

ambient temperature

Tsk

skin temperature

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the Direction des Eaux et Forêts and the Commission Tripartite for their authorisation to carry out this work. The study has been conducted within the framework of biodiversity assessment studies of the littoral forest fragments initiated by QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM). J.-B. Ramanamanjato, M. Vincelette and their environmental and conservation team of QMM as well as R. Ernest provided excellent support in the field. We are grateful to Paula Redman and Peter Thomson for technical assistance in the isotope analysis. We thank J. Fietz, J.U. Ganzhorn and three anonymous referees for very helpful comments on the manuscript. This paper is part of the Accord de Collaboration between the Université d’Anananarivo (Départements de Biologie Animale and d’Anthropologie et Biologie Evolutive), QMM and Hamburg University. Financial support from the German Research Foundation (SCHM 1391/2-1, 2-3, 2-4) is gratefully acknowledged. We declare that the experiments complied with the current laws on Madagascar (no. 101–DGDRF/SCB).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental EcologyUniversity of UlmUlmGermany
  2. 2.Department of Animal Ecology and ConservationUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Aberdeen Centre for Energy Regulation and Obesity (ACERO), Institute of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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