The relationship between cutaneous water loss and thermoregulatory state in Kuhl's pipistrelle Pipistrellus kuhlii, a vespertillionid bat

Agustí Muñoz-Garcia, Miriam Ben-Hamo, Berry Pinshow, Joseph B. Williams, Carmi Korine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Total evaporative water loss is the sum of respiratory water loss (RWL) and cutaneous water loss (CWL) and constitutes the main avenue of water loss in bats. Because bats fly and have large surface-to-volume ratios, they potentially have high rates of RWL and CWL. Most species of small insectivorous bats have the ability to reduce their body temperature (Tb) at rest, which substantially reduces energy expenditure and water loss. We hypothesized that bats reduce evaporative water loss during bouts of deep hypothermia (torpor) by decreasing RWL and CWL. We measured Tb, RWL, CWL, and resting metabolic rate (RMR) in Kuhl's pipistrelle Pipistrellus kuhlii, a small insectivorous bat. In support of our hypothesis, we found that RWL decreased with decreasing RMR.We found that CWL was lower in torpid individuals than in normothermic bats; however, bats in deep torpor had similar or higher CWL than bats in shallow torpor, suggesting that they exert a less effective physiological control over CWL when in deep torpor. Because insectivorous bats spend most of their lives in torpor or hibernation, the regulation of CWL in different heterothermic states has relevant ecological and evolutionary consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-525
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Volume85
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2012

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