PerspectivePhysiology

Life on Low Flame in Hibernation

Science  18 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6019, pp. 866-867
DOI: 10.1126/science.1203192

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Summary

Do bears really hibernate? Their high body temperature during winter dormancy has raised some doubt about this behavior, as it is unlike the pronounced decreases observed in small mammals that enter this nonactive state. On page 906 of this issue, Tøien et al. (1) show that bears do indeed hibernate. Through continuous measurement of oxygen consumption, body temperature, and heart, muscle, and brain activities, the authors show that black bears display unusual patterns of metabolic and thermal regulation during hibernation as well as when they emerge from this resting state in the spring.