Tropical heterothermy is "cool": The expression of daily torpor and hibernation in primates.
Living nonhuman primates generally inhabit tropical forests, and torpor is regarded as a strategy employed by cold-adapted organisms. Yet, some primates employ daily torpor or hibernation (heterothermy) under obligatory, temporary, or emergency circumstances. Though heterothermy is present in most mammalian lineages, there are only three extant heterothermic primate lineages: bushbabies from Africa, lorises from Asia, and dwarf and mouse lemurs from Madagascar. Here, we analyze their phenotypes in the general context of tropical mammalian heterothermy. We focus on Malagasy lemurs as they have been the most intensively studied and also show an unmatched range of flexibility in their heterothermic responses. We discuss the evidence for whether heterothermy should be considered an ancestral or derived condition in primates. This consideration is particularly intriguing given that an understanding of the underlying mechanisms for hibernation in lemurs opens the possibility for insight into genotype-phenotype interactions, including those with biomedical relevance for humans.
Blanco, MB; Dausmann, KH; Faherty, SL; Yoder, AD
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