Tropical bats counter heat by combining torpor with adaptive hyperthermia.

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Published: 2021-01-13

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2020.2059

Affiliations: 1

Authors: 2

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Research Highlight

Tropical bats hibernate to beat the heat

© 945ontwerp/E+/Getty Images

© 945ontwerp/E+/Getty Images

On hot days, bats in the tropics undergo a form of hibernation to conserve water and safely deal with higher body temperatures.

While hibernation is normally associated with animals living in cold climates, two researchers from Universität Hamburg in Germany have discovered that the Malagasy bat uses the same approach of reducing its metabolic rate, and therefore water consumption, to cope with extremes of heat.

On warm days, the bats undergo short ‘hot torpor’ bouts in between periods of normal metabolic activity. But on hot days, they remain in this hot-torpor state for longer, allowing their body temperature to rise significantly without trying to cool it.

However, if the ambient temperature becomes too high, the bats’ body temperature can rise to lethal levels, which could pose a greater risk in a warming world.

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  1. Proceedings Royal Society B 288, 20202059 (2021). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.2059
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University of Hamburg (UHH), Germany 1