Food Restriction Delays Seasonal Sexual Maturation But Does Not Increase Torpor Use in Male Bats

May 15, 2020 | Biology

First appearing on the Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB), Lab.Equipment presents this article for your everyday Bio news fix.

Ewa Komar, Dina K. N. Dechmann, Nicolas J. Fasel, Marcin Zegarek, and Ireneusz Ruczynski

Balancing energy budgets can be challenging, especially in periods of food shortage, adverse weather conditions and increased energy demand due to reproduction. Bats have particularly high energy demands compared to other mammals and regularly use torpor to save energy. However, while torpor limits energy expenditure, it can also downregulate important processes, such as sperm production. This constraint could result in a trade-off between energy saving and future reproductive capacity. We mimicked harsh conditions by restricting food and tested the effect on changes in body mass, torpor use and seasonal sexual maturation in male parti-coloured bats (Vespertilio murinus). Food-restricted individuals managed to maintain their initial body mass, while in well-fed males, mass increased. Interestingly, despite large differences in food availability, there were only small differences in torpor patterns. However, well-fed males reached sexual maturity up to half a month earlier. Our results thus reveal a complex trade-off in resource allocation; independent of resource availability, males maintain a similar thermoregulation strategy and favour fast sexual maturation, but limited resources and low body mass moderate this latter process... Want to read more? View the full article in the Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB) Blog.

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