Climatic impacts on hibernation behaviour in wild hazel dormice Muscardinus avellenarius

Findlay-Robinson, Rachel, Deecke, Volker, Weatherall, Andrew and Hill, Davina (2018) Climatic impacts on hibernation behaviour in wild hazel dormice Muscardinus avellenarius. In: Zoological Society of London symposium: Linking behaviour to populations and communities: how can behavioural ecology inform conservation?, 22-23 November 2018, London, UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Hibernation is a state of prolonged behavioural dormancy and metabolic depression, and is employed by many species to avoid periods of food scarcity. The timing of hibernation is often climate-linked, occurring in the winter in temperate regions in tandem with dormancy of food plants. During hibernation, animals experience ‘arousals’, where the metabolic rate and body temperature return to normal for a short time. These arousals, although apparently essential, use high amounts of energy that cannot always be replaced during the hibernation season. Hence, frequent arousals can be highly detrimental to an individual’s chances of surviving the winter, and on their subsequent body condition. Warmer winters have been shown to increase the frequency of arousals in some species; with winter temperatures projected in continue increasing in temperate regions, understanding their effects on hibernators is essential. We will investigate the impacts of weather on hibernation patterns in wild hazel dormice. Dormice hibernate at, or just below, ground level, and so are relatively exposed to weather fluctuations during the hibernation period. We will record arousal frequency and subsequent activity levels during hibernation using dataloggers and camera traps, and measure habitat and microclimate variables to investigate if dormice can alleviate impacts of weather through hibernation site selection. These results will be integrated with UK Climate projections to model the potential effects of increasing winter temperatures on the hibernation success and overwinter survival of hazel dormice. These results will feed into future conservation strategies and habitat management protocols for dormice, and potentially other hibernating animals.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Departments: Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA)
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2023 12:16
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2023 12:30
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/6822

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