Cold-acclimation in Peromyscus: Temporal effects and individual variation in maximum metabolism and ventilatory traits

Enrico L. Rezende, Mark A. Chappell, Kimberly A. Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Thermal acclimation in small endotherms provides an excellent model for the study of physiological plasticity, as energy requirements can be easily manipulated and the results are relevant for natural conditions. Nevertheless, how physiology changes throughout acclimation, and how individuals vary in their response to acclimation, remain poorly understood. Here we describe a high temporalresolution study of cold acclimation in the deer mouse Peromyscus maniculatus. The experimental design was based on repeated measures at short intervals throughout cold acclimation, with controls (maintained at constant temperature) for measurement artifacts. We monitored body mass, maximum metabolic rate in cold exposure and ventilatory traits (respiratory frequency, tidal and minute volume and oxygen extraction) for 3 weeks at 23°C. Then, half of the individuals were held for 7 weeks at 5°C. Body mass was differently affected by cold acclimation depending on sex. Maximal metabolism (V̇O2max) increased significantly during the first week of cold acclimation, 'overshot' after 5 weeks and dropped to a plateau about 34% above control values at week 7. Similarly, ventilatory traits increased during cold acclimation, though responses were different in their kinetics and magnitude. Body mass, maximum metabolism, and most ventilatory traits were repeatable after 7 weeks in control and cold-acclimated animals. However, repeatability tended to be lower in the cold-acclimated group, especially while animals were still acclimating. Our results show that acclimation effects may be under- and/or overestimated, depending on when trials are performed, and that different traits respond differently, and at different rates, to acclimation. Hence, future studies should be designed to ensure that animals have attained steady-state values in acclimation experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-305
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


  • Acclimation
  • Ambient temperature
  • Maximal oxygen consumption
  • Peromyscus maniculatus
  • Physiological plasticity
  • Repeatability
  • Thermogenesis
  • Ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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