Fasting triggers hypothermia, and ambient temperature modulates its depth in Japanese quail Coturnix japonica

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We tested three hypotheses regarding the cues that elicit facultative hypothermia in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica): H1) Ambient temperature (Ta), alone, influences the onset and depth of hypothermia; H2) Fasting, alone, influences the onset and depth of hypothermia; H3) Ta acts synergistically with fasting to shape the use of hypothermia. Eight quail were maintained within their thermoneutral zone (TNZ) at 32.6 ± 0.2 °C, and eight below their lower critical temperature (Tlc) at 12.7 ± 3.0 °C. All quail entered hypothermia upon food deprivation, even quail kept within their TNZ. Body temperature (Tb) decreased more (38.36 ± 0.53 °C vs. 39.57 ± 0.57 °C), body mass (mb) loss was greater (21.0 ± 7.20 g vs.12.8 ± 2.62 g), and the energy saved by using hypothermia was greater (25.18-45.01% vs. 7.98-28.06%) in low the Ta treatment than in TNZ treatment. Interestingly, the depth of hypothermia was positively correlated with mb loss in the low Ta treatment, but not in TNZ treatment. Our data support H3, that both thermoregulatory costs and body energy reserves are proximate cues for entry into hypothermia in quail. This outcome is not surprising below the Tlc. However, the quail kept at their TNZ also responded to food deprivation by entering hypothermia with no apparent dependence on mb loss. Therefore inputs, other than thermoregulatory costs and body condition, must serve as cues to enter hypothermia. Consequently, we address the role that tissue sparing may play in the physiological 'decision' to employ hypothermia. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology