Winter Is Coming: Seasonal Variation in Resting Metabolic Rate of the European Badger (Meles meles)

David W McClune, Berit Kostka, Richard J Delahay, W Ian Montgomery, Nikki J Marks, David M Scantlebury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is a measure of the minimum energy requirements of an animal at rest, and can give an indication of the costs of somatic maintenance. We measured RMR of free-ranging European badgers (Meles meles) to determine whether differences were related to sex, age and season. Badgers were captured in live-traps and placed individually within a metabolic chamber maintained at 20 ± 1°C. Resting metabolic rate was determined using an open-circuit respirometry system. Season was significantly correlated with RMR, but no effects of age or sex were detected. Summer RMR values were significantly higher than winter values (mass-adjusted mean ± standard error: 2366 ± 70 kJ⋅d-1; 1845 ± 109 kJ⋅d-1, respectively), with the percentage difference being 24.7%. While under the influence of anaesthesia, RMR was estimated to be 25.5% lower than the combined average value before administration, and after recovery from anaesthesia. Resting metabolic rate during the autumn and winter was not significantly different to allometric predictions of basal metabolic rate for mustelid species weighing 1 kg or greater, but badgers measured in the summer had values that were higher than predicted. Results suggest that a seasonal reduction in RMR coincides with apparent reductions in physical activity and body temperature as part of the overwintering strategy ('winter lethargy') in badgers. This study contributes to an expanding dataset on the ecophysiology of medium-sized carnivores, and emphasises the importance of considering season when making predictions of metabolic rate.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0135920
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPloS one
Volume10
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 09 Sep 2015

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