Interspecific variation in evaporative water loss and temperature response, but not metabolic rate, among hibernating bats

Liam P. McGuire, Nathan W. Fuller, Yvonne A. Dzal, Catherine G. Haase, Brandon J. Klüg-Baerwald, Kirk A. Silas, Raina K. Plowright, Cori L. Lausen, Craig K.R. Willis, Sarah H. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Hibernation is widespread among mammals in a variety of environmental contexts. However, few experimental studies consider interspecific comparisons, which may provide insight into general patterns of hibernation strategies. We studied 13 species of free-living bats, including populations spread over thousands of kilometers and diverse habitats. We measured torpid metabolic rate (TMR) and evaporative water loss (two key parameters for understanding hibernation energetics) across a range of temperatures. There was no difference in minimum TMR among species (i.e., all species achieved similarly low torpid metabolic rate) but the temperature associated with minimum TMR varied among species. The minimum defended temperature (temperature below which TMR increased) varied from 8 °C to < 2 °C among species. Conversely, evaporative water loss varied among species, with species clustered in two groups representing high and low evaporative water loss. Notably, species that have suffered population declines due to white-nose syndrome fall in the high evaporative water loss group and less affected species in the low evaporative water loss group. Documenting general patterns of physiological diversity, and associated ecological implications, contributes to broader understanding of biodiversity, and may help predict which species are at greater risk of environmental and anthropogenic stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20759
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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