Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 182, Issue 3, pp 403–414 | Cite as

Stress-induced rise in body temperature is repeatable in free-ranging Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus)

  • Vincent CareauEmail author
  • Denis Réale
  • Dany Garant
  • John R. Speakman
  • Murray M. Humphries
Original Paper


In response to handling or other acute stressors, most mammals, including humans, experience a temporary rise in body temperature (T b). Although this stress-induced rise in T b has been extensively studied on model organisms under controlled environments, individual variation in this interesting phenomenon has not been examined in the field. We investigated the stress-induced rise in T b in free-ranging eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) to determine first if it is repeatable. We predicted that the stress-induced rise in T b should be positively correlated to factors affecting heat production and heat dissipation, including ambient temperature (T a), body mass (M b), and field metabolic rate (FMR). Over two summers, we recorded both T b within the first minute of handling time (T b1) and after 5 min of handling time (T b5) 294 times on 140 individuals. The mean ∆T b (T b5 – T b1) during this short interval was 0.30 ± 0.02°C, confirming that the stress-induced rise in T b occurs in chipmunks. Consistent differences among individuals accounted for 40% of the total variation in ∆T b (i.e. the stress-induced rise in T b is significantly repeatable). We also found that the stress-induced rise in T b was positively correlated to T a, M b, and mass-adjusted FMR. These results confirm that individuals consistently differ in their expression of the stress-induced rise in T b and that the extent of its expression is affected by factors related to heat production and dissipation. We highlight some research constraints and opportunities related to the integration of this laboratory paradigm into physiological and evolutionary ecology.


Autonomic nervous system Daily energy expenditure Emotional fever Heat dissipation Repeatability Stress-induced hyperthermia Thermoregulation 



Ambient temperature


Body temperature


Body temperature within 1 min of handling


Body temperature after 5 min of handling


Rise in body temperature during handling


Field metabolic rate



Animals were captured and handled with compliance to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (#2007-DT01-Université de Sherbrooke) and the Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune du Québec (#2008-04-15-101-05-S–F). We thank all field assistants who have helped to collect the data presented in this paper and P. Bourgault, M. Landry-Cuerrier, and D. Munro for coordination work, P. Thomson and P. Redman for technical assistance with isotope analysis. We also thank F. Pelletier and reviewers for comments on previous drafts. This research was supported by a Québec FQRNT team grant, NSERC discovery grants to DR, DG, and MMH, a NSERC doctoral scholarship to VC, who wishes to thank the late Don Thomas for their first talk on emotional fever.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent Careau
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Denis Réale
    • 2
  • Dany Garant
    • 1
  • John R. Speakman
    • 3
  • Murray M. Humphries
    • 4
  1. 1.Département de BiologieUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada
  2. 2.Département des Sciences BiologiquesUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  4. 4.Natural Resource Sciences, Macdonald CampusMcGill UniversitySte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada
  5. 5.Department of BiologyUniversity of California at RiversideRiversideUSA

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