Article: article from journal or magazin.
Thermal energetics of the New-Guinean moss-forest rat (Rattus niobe) in comparison with other tropical murid rodents.
Journal of Thermal Biology
The thermal energetics of rodents from cool, wet tropical highlands are poorly known. Metabolic rate, body temperature and thermal conductance were measured in the moss-forest rat, Rattus niobe (Rodentia), a small murid endemic to the highlands of New Guinea. These data were evaluated in the context of the variation observed in the genus Rattus and among tropical murids. In 7 adult R. niobe, basal metabolic rate (BMR) averaged 53.6±6.6mLO2h(-1), or 103% of the value predicted for a body mass of 42.3±5.8g. Compared to other species of Rattus, R. niobe combines a low body temperature (35.5±0.6°C) and a moderately low minimal wet thermal conductance cmin (5.88±0.7mLO2h(-1)°C(-1), 95% of predicted) with a small size, all of which lead to reduced energy expenditure in a constantly cool environment. The correlations of mean annual rainfall and temperature, altitude and body mass with BMR, body temperature and cmin were analyzed comparatively among tropical Muridae. Neither BMR, nor cmin or body temperature correlated with ambient temperature or altitude. Some of the factors which promote high BMR in higher latitude habitats, such as seasonal exposure to very low temperature and short reproductive season, are lacking in wet montane tropical forests. BMR increased with rainfall, confirming a pattern observed among other assemblages of mammals. This correlation was due to the low BMR of several desert adapted murids, while R. niobe and other species from wet habitats had a moderate BMR.
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