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Effects of short- and long-term cold acclimation on morphology, physiology, and exercise performance of California mice (Peromyscus californicus): potential modulation by fatherhood.


California mice (Peromyscus californicus) differ from most other mammals in that they are biparental, genetically monogamous, and (compared with other Peromyscus) relatively large. We evaluated effects of cold acclimation on metabolic rate, exercise performance, and morphology of pair-housed male California mice, as well as modulation of these effects by fatherhood. In Experiment 1, virgin males housed at 5° or 10 °C for approximately 25 days were compared with virgins housed at standard vivarium temperature of 22 °C. Measures included resting metabolic rate (RMR), maximal oxygen consumption ([Formula: see text]max), grip strength, and sprint speed. In Experiment 2, virgin males housed at 22 °C were compared with three groups of males housed at 10 °C: virgins, breeding males (housed with a female and their pups), and non-breeding males (housed with an ovariectomized, estrogen- and progesterone-treated female) after long-term acclimation (mean 243 days). Measures in this experiment included basal metabolic rate (BMR), [Formula: see text]max, maximal thermogenic capacity ([Formula: see text]sum), and morphological traits. In Experiment 1, virgin males housed at 5° and 10 °C had higher RMR and [Formula: see text]max than those at 22 °C. In Experiment 2, 10 °C-acclimated groups had shorter bodies; increased body, fat, and lean masses; higher BMR and [Formula: see text]sum, and generally greater morphometric measures and organ masses than virgin males at 22 °C. Among the groups housed at 10 °C, breeding males had higher BMR and lower [Formula: see text]max than non-breeding and/or virgin males. Overall, we found that effects of fatherhood during cold acclimation were inconsistent, and that several aspects of cold acclimation differ substantially between California mice and other small mammals.

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