Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 142, Issue 4, pp 429–437 | Cite as

Seasonal control of energy requirements for thermoregulation in the djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus), living in natural photoperiod

  • Gerhard Heldmaier
  • Stephan Steinlechner


Djungarian dwarf hamsters,Phodopus s. sungorus, were kept in natural photoperiodic conditions throughout the year, either inside at a constantTa of 23°C or outside subjected to seasonally varyingTa. Comparisons were made between hamsters from both conditions to evaluate the significance of seasonal changes in photoperiod and/orTa as environmental cues for seasonal acclimatization inPhodopus. Basal metabolic rate was lowest in July (1.68 ml/g·h) and highest in January (2.06 ml/g·h inPhodopus living outside), combined with a decrease inT1c from 26°C in July to 20°C in January. This was parallelled by seasonal changes in body weight (summer 42 g, winter 25g), fur colouration, fur depth and the occurrence of short daily torpor.

AtTa below thermoneutrality total energy requirements for thermoregulation in winter acclimatizedPhodopus were found 36% lower than summer values (e.g. at O°CTa in summer 1,160 mW, in winter 760 mW), which were effected by a combined strategy of reducing body weight (19%) together with improvements of thermal insulation of the body surface (17%). All seasonal changes were similar inPhodopus living inside or outside, suggesting that seasonal changes in photoperiod and not seasonal changes inTa is the overriding controller for the environmental cueing of seasonality in energy requirements for thermoregulation.


Metabolic Rate Seasonal Change Energy Requirement Thermal Insulation Basal Metabolic Rate 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerhard Heldmaier
    • 1
  • Stephan Steinlechner
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoologisches InstitutJ. W. Goethe-UniversitätFrankfurtFederal Republic of Germany

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