Aestivation pp 95-111 | Cite as

Aestivation in Mammals and Birds

Part of the Progress in Molecular and Subcellular Biology book series (PMSB, volume 49)


Aestivation, which in the context of this paper refers to avian and mammalian torpor in summer/at high ambient temperatures (T a), does not appear to differ functionally from other forms of torpor, and to a large extent reflects the higher body temperatures (T b) caused by high T a. However, from an ecological point of view, aestivation results in different challenges and requirements than does torpor use in winter, because heat can cause reduced food and water availability in many regions, but without the access to low T a for a substantial reduction of T b. Aestivation is used by a diversity of adult mammals and birds both in the field and laboratory, as well as by growing young to reduce thermoregulatory energy expenditure. Torpor occurs at high T a including the thermo-neutral zone and even under these conditions the reduction in energy expenditure and water requirements or water loss is substantial. Although data from the laboratory and, especially, from the field are limited, they show that torpor at high T a is an effective survival strategy and suggest that it is employed by many mammals and birds in a diversity of habitats.


Basal Metabolic Rate Torpor Bout Evaporative Water Loss Daily Torpor Gray Mouse Lemur 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author would like to thank Gerhard Körtner, Bronwyn McAllan, and Phil Withers for constructive comments on the manuscript. The Australian Research Council supported the work


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Behavioral and Physiological Ecology, ZoologyUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

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