Metabolic rate, latitude and thermal stability of roosts, but not phylogeny, affect rewarming rates of bats

Allyson K. Menzies, Quinn M.R. Webber, Dylan E. Baloun, Liam P. McGuire, Kristina A. Muise, Damien Coté, Craig K.R. Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Torpor is an adaptation that allows many endotherms to save energy by abandoning the energetic cost of maintaining elevated body temperatures. Although torpor reduces energy consumption, the metabolic heat production required to arouse from torpor is energetically expensive and can impact the overall cost of torpor. The rate at which rewarming occurs can impact the cost of arousal, therefore, factors influencing rewarming rates of heterothermic endotherms could have influenced the evolution of rewarming rates and overall energetic costs of arousal from torpor. Bats are a useful taxon for studies of ecological and behavioral correlates of rewarming rate because of the widespread expression of heterothermy and ecological diversity across the > 1200 known species. We used a comparative analysis of 45 bat species to test the hypothesis that ecological, behavioral, and physiological factors affect rewarming rates. We used basal metabolic rate (BMR) as an index of thermogenic capacity, and local climate (i.e., latitude of geographic range), roost stability and maximum colony size as ecological and behavioral predictors of rewarming rate. After controlling for phylogeny, high BMR was associated with rapid rewarming while species that live at higher absolute latitudes and in less thermally stable roosts also rewarmed most rapidly. These patterns suggests that some bat species rely on passive rewarming and social thermoregulation to reduce costs of rewarming, while others might rely on thermogenic capacity to maintain rapid rewarming rates in order to reduce energetic costs of arousal. Our results highlight species-specific traits associated with maintaining positive energy balance in a wide range of climates, while also providing insight into possible mechanisms underlying the evolution of heterothermy in endotherms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • BMR
  • Climate
  • PGLS
  • Roosting behavior
  • Social thermoregulation
  • Thermogenic capacity


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