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  • Authors: Flávio G. Oliveira, Joaquim T. Tapisso, Paulo J. Fonseca, Leszek Rychlik, Maria L. Mathias
  • Title: Do shrews use daily torpor to reduce risk exposure?
  • Conference Title: International Colloquium Biology of the Soricidae IV
  • Conference Location: Poznan, Poland
  • Conference Date: 11–14 September 2016
  • Year Published: 2016
  • Meeting Abstract: Daily torpor is a state of decreased physiological activity used by some species of birds and mammals to save energy during periods of food shortage. Recent evidence has suggested that this behaviour may reduce mortality by decreasing the amount of time animals are exposed to risks such as predators or anthropogenic disturbances.We tested if torpor can be used as a direct reaction to these risks using Crocidura russula, a white-toothed shrew known to enter daily torpor, as a model. We predicted shrews would reduce their activity and either stay inside the nest more often or focus their time outside the nest more on feeding behaviour when exposed to these risks. Shrews were captured in Sintra, Portugal, and brought to the facilities of the University of Lisbon. After an acclimation period of three days, shrews were tested during four non-consecutive nights in an arena provided with a controlled amount of food and a nest with an affixed datalogger to record nest temperature. Each individual was exposed to four types of sound, one per night: silence and white noise (negative and positive controls, respectively), tawny owl calls and traffic noise. Shrews were video-recorded from 20:00 to 10:00 (lights on at 08:00). Shrews’ activity, food intake and nest temperatures were compared between sound treatment groups. Contrary to our main predictions, preliminary results show no evidence of torpor in response to any sound treatment. However, food consumption appears to be larger and more variable in shrews exposed to white noise and tawny owl calls.

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