Many species use behavioural thermoregulation to cope with changes in their thermal environment. Most studies to date, however, have focused either on ectotherms or on endotherms living in warm environments. Here we used heated taxidermic mounts to characterize microclimates available to North American porcupines during the cold Canadian winter. We then examined activity patterns and microhabitat use of wild individuals to test whether porcupines responded behaviourally to changes in thermal conditions. Dens offered good protection against the cold, and porcupines modified their use of dens as thermal conditions became more constraining. They reduced time spent outside of dens, increased the number of activity bouts in a day, and became more diurnal. When outside of dens, they fed more often, but did not change their use of microhabitats as thermal conditions became most constraining. Microhabitats other than dens were less predictable in the protection they offered against cold temperatures. This may be why porcupines based their behavioural thermoregulation strategy on modulating patterns of den use rather than on selecting warmer microclimates when outside of the den. We hypothesize that selection of microhabitats outside of the den was driven by food acquisition or predation risk.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 18 • No. 4