Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 51 (3), 337-48

Hibernation and Torpor in Tropical and Subtropical Bats in Relation to Energetics, Extinctions, and the Evolution of Endothermy

Affiliations

Hibernation and Torpor in Tropical and Subtropical Bats in Relation to Energetics, Extinctions, and the Evolution of Endothermy

Fritz Geiser et al. Integr Comp Biol.

Abstract

Torpor, the most effective means of energy conservation available to endotherms, is still widely viewed as a specific adaptation in a few high-latitude, cold-climate endotherms with no adaptive function in warm regions. Nevertheless, a growing number of diverse terrestrial mammals and birds from low latitudes (0-30°), including species from tropical and subtropical regions, are heterothermic and employ torpor. Use of torpor is especially important for bats because they are small, expend large amounts of energy when active, rely on a fluctuating food supply, and have only a limited capacity for storage of fat. Patterns of torpor in tropical/subtropical bats are highly variable, but short bouts of torpor with relatively high body temperatures (T(b)) are most common. Hibernation (a sequence of multiday bouts of torpor) has been reported for free-ranging subtropical tree-dwelling vespertilionids, cave-dwelling hipposiderids, and house-dwelling molossids. The observed range of minimum T(b) is ∼6-30 °C, and the reduction of energy expenditure through the use of torpor, in comparison to normothermic values, ranges from 50 to 99%. Overall, torpor in the tropics/subtropics has been reported for 10 out of the currently recognized 18 bat families, which contain 1079 species, or 96.7% of all bats. Although it is unlikely that all of these are heterothermic, the large majority probably will be. Frequent use of torpor, including hibernation in diverse groups of tropical/subtropical bats, suggests that heterothermy is an ancestral chiropteran trait. Although data especially from the field are still scarce, it is likely that torpor, highly effective in reducing requirements for energy and water even under warm conditions, plays a crucial role in the long-term survival of the majority of small tropical and subtropical bats. Discovering how bats achieve this provides numerous opportunities for exiting new research.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 24 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback