Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Physiology

Hibernation in a tropical primate

Even in the wound-down hibernating state, this lemur can warm up without waking up.

Abstract

The Madagascan fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Cheirogaleus medius, hibernates in tree holes for seven months of the year, even though winter temperatures rise to over 30 °C. Here we show that this tropical primate relies on a flexible thermal response that depends on the properties of its tree hole: if the hole is poorly insulated, body temperature fluctuates widely, passively following the ambient temperature; if well insulated, body temperature stays fairly constant and the animal undergoes regular spells of arousal. Our findings indicate that arousals are determined by maximum body temperatures and that hypometabolism in hibernating animals is not necessarily coupled to a low body temperature.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Body temperature of Cheirogaleus medius during the hibernation period.

References

  1. Arnold, W. et al. J. Therm. Biol. 16, 223–226 (1991).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Schmid, J. Int. J. Primatol. 19, 797–808 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Wang, L. C. H. Can. J. Zool. 57, 149–155 (1979).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Heldmaier, G., Ortmann, S. & Körtner, G. in Life in the Cold: Ecological, Physiological and Molecular Mechanisms (eds Carey, C. et al.) 175–183 (Westview, Boulder, Colorado, 1993).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Humphries, M. M., Thomas, D. W. & Kramer, D. L. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 76, 165–179 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Carey, H. V., Andrews, M. T. & Martin, S. L. Physiol. Rev. 83, 1153–1181 (2003).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kathrin H. Dausmann.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Methods

This supplement gives information on the study site and the experimental procedure of the study (trapping, temperature measurements, radio-tracking, number of study animals, data analysis). (DOC 32 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dausmann, K., Glos, J., Ganzhorn, J. et al. Hibernation in a tropical primate. Nature 429, 825–826 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/429825a

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/429825a

This article is cited by

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing