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Dataset: Tropical bats counter heat by combining torpor with adaptive hyperthermia


Reher, Stephanie; Dausmann, Kathrin (2020), Dataset: Tropical bats counter heat by combining torpor with adaptive hyperthermia, Dryad, Dataset,


Many tropical mammals are vulnerable to heat because their water budget limits the use of evaporative cooling for heat compensation. Further increasing temperatures and aridity might consequently exceed their thermoregulatory capacities. Here, we describe two novel modes of torpor, a response usually associated with cold or resource bottlenecks, as efficient mechanisms to counter heat. We conducted a field study on the Malagasy bat Macronycteris commersoni resting in foliage during the hot season, unprotected from environmental extremes. On warm days, the bats alternated between remarkably short micro-torpor-bouts and normal resting metabolism within few minutes. On hot days, the bats extended their torpor bouts over the hottest time of the day while tolerating body temperatures up to 42.9°C. Adaptive hyperthermia combined with lowered metabolic heat production from torpor allows higher heat storage from the environment, negates the need for evaporative cooling and thus increases heat tolerance. However, it is a high-risk response as the torpid bats cannot defend body temperature if ambient temperature increases above a critical/lethal threshold. Torpor coupled with hyperthermia and micro-torpor-bouts broaden our understanding of the basic principles of thermal physiology and demonstrate how mammals can perform near their upper thermal limits in an increasingly warmer world.