Effect of age on energy storage during prehibernation swarming in little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus)

L. P. Mcguire, M. B. Fenton, C. G. Guglielmo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

At temperate latitudes insectivorous bats face substantial nutritional demands prior to hibernation. As tempera-ture decreases and availability of insect prey declines, bats must deposit nutrient stores for hibernation. The use of torpor allows bats to limit energy expenditures resulting in a net energy gain despite decreased energy intake. However, subadult bats have lower initial fat stores than adults and may have greater difficulty depositing sufficient nutrient stores to survive the winter. We used plasma metabolite analysis to determine the fueling performance of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus (LeConte, 1831)) during swarming to see if subadults compensated for the increased challenges by increased feeding throughout the swarming period. During the period of our study (August and September), adult bats gained mass, while subadults lost mass. There was, however, no difference in nutrient intake of the age groups as indicated by plasma metabo-lite concentrations. The number of bats using torpor while roosting in the hibernaculum by day increased exponentially co-incident with the onset of mating and a decrease in nutrient intake. The results are consistent with wild bats using torpor to minimize energy expenditure and compensate for lower nutrient intake. The difference in mass change for adults and subadults despite the same nutrient intake indicates that subadults incur greater energetic costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-519
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume87
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2009

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