A message from nature to muskrats: 'Dont chill out'

radio transmitters, or with electrocardiogram (ECG)/Tb transmitters. Rates of O2 consumption in the metabolic chamber were determined using a negative-pressure, open-circuit respirometry setup. Prior to dive trials, muskrats were placed in a chilling tank where they were immersed to a depth of 15 cm in 6 1C water for up to one hour in order to induce mild hypothermia.

The experiments consisted of:

Experiment 1: Cost of Thermal Recovery from Chilling: This experiment enabled the quantification of post-immersion rewarming costs of hypothermic muskrats in the absence of diving. Average was determined, as it reflects the combined costs of recovery from chilling and post-immersion grooming and comfort movements within the metabolic chamber.

Experiment 2: Free Diving during Continuous Immersion: Pre-chilled and non-chilled muskrats were introduced into tanks where submerged screens prevented diving muskrats from surfacing at any point other than in a purpose-built metabolic chamber (14.6 L) situated at one end of the covered tank. Several behavioural indices of dive performance were measured during this aquatic phase, including dive frequency, average and total dive time, and dive: surface ratio (ratio of surface recovery time to duration of preceding dive).

Experiment 3: Dives of Controlled Duration: Pre-chilled or non-chilled control muskrats entered the water directly from the metabolic chamber and dive duration was controlled by blocking the entrance to the metabolic chamber once the muskrat had initiated a dive. Following each dive, muskrats were confined to the metabolic chamber and post-dive excess was calculated for that specific dive.

Experiment 4: Dive Trials on Juvenile Muskrats: Diving metabolic rates of normothermic and hypothermic juveniles were calculated in the same manner as for adults. However, due to time constraints associated with working on young, rapidly growing animals, juveniles did not parti

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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