Measuring T b during the active season can provide information about the timing of reproduction and the use of short bouts of torpor and may be used as a proxy for the locomotor activity of animals (i.e., maximum T b). This kind of information is especially important to understand life-history strategies and energetic costs and demands in hibernating mammals. We investigated T b throughout the active season in edible dormice (Glis glis), since they (i) have an expensive arboreal life-style, (ii) are known to show short bouts of torpor, and (iii) are adapted to pulsed resources (mast of beech trees). We show here for the first time that maximum T b's in free-living active dormice (during the night) increase regularly and for up to 8 h above 40 °C, which corresponds to slight hyperthermia, probably due to locomotor activity. The highest weekly mean maximum T b was recorded 1 week prior to hibernation (40.45 ± 0.07 °C). At the beginning of the active season and immediately prior to hibernation, the mean maximum T b's were lower. The time dormice spent at T b above 40 °C varied between sexes, depending on mast conditions. The date of parturition could be determined by a sudden increase in mean T b (plus 0.49 ± 0.04 °C). The occurrence of short torpor bouts (<24 h) was strongly affected by the mast situation with much higher torpor frequencies in mast-failure years. Our data suggest that locomotor activity is strongly affected by environmental conditions, and that sexes respond differently to these changes.
Animals Body Temperaturephysiology Female Locomotionphysiology Male Myoxidaephysiology Reproduction Seasons Torporphysiology