Henry Haas

Animal Physiology


STEAM Project Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Unit 2 Thermal Physiology, “Compare and contrast behavioral and physiological strategies for coping with temperatures”.

Hibernation, a deep state of multi-day torpor in which body temperature and metabolism are depressed, exists in more than 10 classes and families among mammals and birds of the Animal Kingdom. The main purpose of hibernation is to enable animals to better survive the cold winter period by spending less energy on thermoregulation and metabolic activity. The physiology of this remains unclear, but it mainly has something to do with direct repression of proteins in mitochondria. The behavior of this is complex. Some behaviors simply guide the physiological abilities to cope with cold the best. For example, behavior such as choose the optimal insulated den and choosing the best time to “sleep” in fall and “wake” in spring. Other behaviors reduce the ability to cope with cold granted by hibernation in exchange for other things. For example, choosing a colder den that is safer from predation, or arousing more often during hibernation to seek advantage in foraging or mating.

One Comment

  1. Hibernation is an overwintering tool used by many species, from mammals to birds to amphibians, in the Animal Kingdom. It is a process where one’s body temperature is depressed to the ambient temperature, which decreases its metabolism leaving it in a deep, extended torpor state. This ability enables animals to survive the cold winter, when resources are scarce, by spending less energy on thermoregulation. Research is still being done to understand the physiology behind this process, however, a main component is the repression of proteins in the mitochondria. Each species has a slightly different coping mechanism that takes advantage of their given resources. For example, some animals prefer an insulated den and hibernate from fall to spring. Other animals choose dens that offer lots of protection and tend to wake up occasionally to forage or mate. Each behavior comes with a trade off but it ultimately helps the animal survive winter.

    Mesa Moran

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