Temperature regulation and metabolism of an Australian bat, Chalinolobus gouldii (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) when euthermic and torpid
The thermal and metabolic physiology of Chalinolobus gouldii, an Australian vespertilionid bat, was studied in the laboratory using flow-through respirometry. Chalinolobus gouldii exhibits a clear pattern of euthermic thermoregulation, typical of endotherms with respect to body temperature and rate of oxygen consumption. The basal metabolic rate of euthermic Chalinolobus gouldii is approximately 86% of that predicted for a 17.5-g mammal and falls into the range of mass-specific basal metabolic rates ascribed to vespertilionid bats. However, like most vespertilionid bats, Chalinolobus gouldii displays extreme thermolability. It is able to enter into torpor and spontaneously arouse at ambient temperatures as low as 5 °C. Torpid bats thermoconform at moderate ambient temperature, with body temperature ≈ ambient temperature, and have a low rate of oxygen consumption determined primarily by Q10 effects. At low ambient temperature (< 10 °C), torpid C. gouldii begin to regulate their body temperature by increased metabolic heat production; they tend to maintain a higher body temperature at low ambient temperature than do many northern hemisphere hibernating bats. Use of torpor leads to significant energy savings. The evaporative water loss of euthermic bats is relatively high, which seems unusual for a bat whose range includes extremely arid areas of Australia, and is reduced during torpor. The thermal conductance of euthermic C. gouldii is less than that predicted for a mammal of its size. The thermal conductance is considerably lower for torpid bats at intermediate body temperature and ambient temperature, but increases to euthermic values for torpid bats when thermoregulating at low ambient temperature.
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