Seasonal trends in body mass, food intake and resting metabolic rate, and induction of metabolic depression in arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) at Svalbard
Post-absorptive resting metabolic rates (RMRs), body mass and ad libitum food intake were recorded on an annual cycle in captive arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) at Svalbard. During the light season in May and in the dark period in November, RMR during starvation and subsequent re-feeding were also measured. In contrast to earlier findings, the present study indicated a seasonal trend in post-absorptive RMR (in W · kg−1 and W · kg−0.75). The values in the light summer were 15% and 11% higher than the values in the dark winter, suggesting a physiological adaptation aiding energy conservation during winter in arctic foxes. Body mass and ad libitum food intake varied inversely through the year. A significant reduction in RMR (in W and W · kg−0.75) with starvation (metabolic depression) was recorded both in May and November, indicating an adaptation to starvation in arctic foxes. The lack of metabolic depression during a period of starvation that was concomitant with extremely cold ambient temperatures in November 1994 indicates that metabolic responses to starvation may be masked by thermoregulatory needs. At very low ambient temperatures, arctic foxes may require increased heat production which cannot be achieved via below-average rates of metabolism.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.