Circannual Rhythms Mammals

  • Irving Zucker
Part of the Handbook of Behavioral Neurobiology book series (HBNE, volume 12)


Orientation in time, which ranks among the most important of organismal adaptations, is apparent in the ubiquitous distribution of seasonal rhythms: mammals anticipate and take advantage of predictable changes in the external environment imposed by the 12-month geophysical cycle. Striking seasonal changes in temperature, humidity, and day length, as well as prominent seasonal variation in biotic factors such as food availability, presence of predators, and access to mates, place a premium on accurate timing. The array of mammalian functions that varies seasonally includes, among others, reproduction, food intake, sleep, body and brain mass, thermoregulation, affiliative and agonistic social behaviors, pelage characteristics, secretion of hormones, and neurotransmitter concentrations in brain (Bartness & Wade, 1985; Buijset al.1986; Dark, Dark, & Zucker, 1987; Ferkin & Zucker, 1991; Goldman & Nelson, 1993; Heldmaier & Steinlechner, 1981; Sadlier, 1969; Turek & Van Canter, 1994; Walker, Haskell, Berger, & Heller, 1980). Seasonal rhythms are evident at all levels of biological organization.


Circadian Rhythm Pineal Gland Ground Squirrel Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Biological Rhythm 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irving Zucker
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Psychology and Integrative BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley

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