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Circannual cycles in golden-mantled ground squirrels: phase shift produced by low temperatures

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Golden-mantled ground squirrels,Spermophilus lateralis, were kept in a warm room (21 °C) until they had begun to lose weight following attaining a peak of body weight in the autumn. An experimental group was then transferred to a cold room (−3 °C) and kept there for about 9 months before being returned to the warm room. A control group was kept in the warm room throughout. The peaks in body weight of animals that had been exposed to the cold occurred 4.5 months later than those of the control animals. This difference was maintained when the animals were studied for a further year. Reproductive condition in the experimental animals, after they had been returned to the warm room, also occurred several months later than that in control animals. An extended sojourn in the cold therefore results in a phase shift in circannual cycles of this species.

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I thank Kirsteen Lang for much help and Linda Jones and others at the Environmental Sciences Centre, Kananaskis, for their cooperation. Janice Farintosh, Yasmin Shah and John Ting assisted with the experiments. The work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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Mrosovsky, N. Circannual cycles in golden-mantled ground squirrels: phase shift produced by low temperatures. J. Comp. Physiol. 136, 349–353 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00657356

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  • Body Weight
  • Experimental Animal
  • Phase Shift
  • Control Animal
  • Ground Squirrel