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Title: Examining the impacts of potential stressors on mammalian metabolic rate and thermoregulation
Author: McGowan, Natasha
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 6536
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2015
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Energy is the universal currency of life and achieving a balance between energy intake and expenditure is vital for individual and population survival and fitness. In this thesis the relationships between energy expenditure, ambient temperature, habitat, activity, and parasitism were examined. In addition, the emissivity of mammal pelage was determined for use in infrared thermography. Infrared thermography is an increasingly popular technique in medical and veterinary science but its use in quantitative physiological studies on mammals remains limited as pelage emissivity data are scarce. In this thesis pelage emissivity was measured for 23 mammal species. Mean emissivity was lower than the values recommended for mammals with no observed correlation with fur metrics. The relationship between thermal stress, habitat and physiology was examined for three species of African mole-rat from different habitats. Species which inhabited regions with the greatest fluctuations in ambient temperature (savannah and desert species) could maintain their body temperature better than the montane species which could not maintain its body temperature when ambient temperature was high. The impact of high thermal stress on animals may be exacerbated during energetically expensive activities such as hunting. Cheetah surface temperature was measured before and after exercise. There was no evidence of increased radiative heat loss in cheetahs after chases but evaporative water loss from the nasal cavity may be significant for thermoregulation. Disease plays an important role in regulating animal populations. Parasitic infection was examined in the European hedgehog in Northern Ireland and the physiological effects of parasitism were determined. Twelve parasite species infected Northern Irish hedgehogs with endoparasites and, potentially, ticks incurring the highest metabolic costs to hosts. Overall, this thesis provides an overview of the effects of potential stressors on energy expenditure in several mammal species occupying different niches. Some of these species (the cheetah and European hedgehog) are currently of conservation concern in all or part of their range. The findings contained in this thesis may therefore contribute towards conservation efforts. Furthermore, they may aid climate change researchers in predicting the effects of global warming on species occupying particular habitats or niches.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available