Torpor and energetic consequences in free-ranging grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus): a comparison of dry and wet forests

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Many endotherms save energy during food and water shortage or unpredictable environment using controlled reductions in body temperature and metabolism called torpor. In this study, we measured energy metabolism and water turnover in free-ranging grey mouse lemurs Microcebus murinus (approximately 60 g) using doubly labelled water during the austral winter in the rain forest of southeastern Madagascar. We then compared patterns of thermal biology between grey mouse lemurs from the rain forest and a population from the dry forest. M. murinus from the rain forest, without a distinct dry season, entered daily torpor independent of ambient temperature (T (a)). There were no differences in torpor occurrence, duration and depth between M. murinus from the rain and dry forest. Mouse lemurs using daily torpor reduced their energy expenditure by 11% in the rain forest and by 10.5% in the dry forest, respectively. There was no significant difference in the mean water flux rates of mouse lemurs remaining normothermic between populations of both sites. In contrast, mean water flux rate of individuals from the dry forest that used torpor was significantly lower than those from the rain forest. This study represents the first account of energy expenditure, water flux and skin temperature (T (sk)) in free-ranging M. murinus from the rain forest. Our comparative findings suggest that water turnover and therefore water requirement during the austral winter months plays a more restricting role on grey mouse lemurs from the dry forest than on those from the rain forest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-620
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • Microcebus murinus
  • Madagascar
  • Doubly labelled water
  • Torpor
  • Water turnover
  • Field metabolic rate
  • Synconycteris-Australis
  • Megachiroptera
  • Northwestern Madagascar
  • Southeastern Madagascar
  • Temperature regulation
  • Elephant-shrews
  • Sleeping sites
  • CO2 production
  • Small mammals

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