Biologist Frank van Breukelen Awarded NSF Grant

Jan. 6, 2017

Biologist Frank van Breukelen has received a four-year, $797,810 National Science Foundation grant to study hibernation in tenrecs.

The current views about mammalian hibernation were developed using traditional models such as the ground squirrel. In these models, hibernators periodically rewarm to active levels between bouts of depressed metabolism. In this proposal, a unique model of hibernation will be used. 

Common tenrecs (Tenrec ecaudatus) originate from Madagascar and in contrast to all other known hibernators, do not periodically arouse from hibernation. Moreover, these mammals have a very variable active body temperature (Tb) which allows for direct comparison between active and hibernating tenrecs at the same body temperatures. 

The proposed research will determine the extent and duration of metabolic savings associated with hibernation. Kidney function, protein synthesis, and protein degradation are normally depressed during hibernation. The proposed research will determine how kidney function, protein synthesis, and protein degradation are affected by temperature and hibernation status in the more variable tenrec. Outreach efforts will include development of a television program on hibernation.