Food Availability Is the Main Driver of Seasonal Changes in Resting Metabolic Rate in African Striped Mice (Rhabdomys pumilio).
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) influences energy allocation to survival, growth, and reproduction, and significant seasonal changes in RMR have been reported. According to one hypothesis, seasonal changes in RMR are mainly attributable to seasonal changes in ambient temperature (Ta) and food availability. Studies on species from the temperate zone indicated that food availability is the main driver. However, whether this is generally true is unknown, because studies from the tropics and subtropics, where most species live, are rare. We studied the African striped mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio) inhabiting a seasonal environment with hot dry seasons with low food availability and cold moist seasons with high food availability. Using 603 RMR measurements of 277 individuals, we investigated the relative importance of food availability and Ta on RMR during selected periods, in which one extrinsic factor varied while the other factor was relatively constant. At similar Ta, residual RMR increased with increasing levels of food availability. In contrast, different Ta did not influence residual RMR at similar levels of food availability. Thus, our study on a subtropical species gives support to the hypothesis, derived from temperate zone species, that food availability mainly drives seasonal changes in RMR.
Rimbach, R; Jäger, J; Pillay, N; Schradin, C
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