Winter conditions, not resource availability alone, may drive reversible seasonal skull size changes in moles

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2022
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Nováková, Lucie
Muturi, Marion
Dullin, Christian
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Seasonal changes in the environment can lead to astonishing adaptations. A few small mammals with exceptionally high metabolisms have evolved a particularly extreme strategy: they shrink before winter and regrow in spring, including changes of greater than 20% in skull and brain size. Whether this process is an adaptation to seasonal climates, resource availability or both remains unclear. We show that European moles (Talpa europaea) also decrease skull size in winter. As resources for closely related Iberian moles (Talpa occidentalis) are lowest in summer, we predicted they should shift the timing of size changes. Instead, they do not change size at all. We conclude that in moles, seasonal decrease and regrowth of skull size is an adaptation to winter climate and not to a changing resource landscape alone. We not only describe this phenomenon in yet another taxon, but take an important step towards a better understanding of this enigmatic cycle.

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570 Biowissenschaften, Biologie
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phenotypic flexibility, Dehnel’s phenomenon, adaptation
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ISO 690NOVÁKOVÁ, Lucie, Javier LAZARO, Marion MUTURI, Christian DULLIN, Dina K. N. DECHMANN, 2022. Winter conditions, not resource availability alone, may drive reversible seasonal skull size changes in moles. In: Royal Society Open Science. Royal Society of London. 2022, 9(9), 220652. eISSN 2054-5703. Available under: doi: 10.1098/rsos.220652
BibTex
@article{Novakova2022-09Winte-58749,
  year={2022},
  doi={10.1098/rsos.220652},
  title={Winter conditions, not resource availability alone, may drive reversible seasonal skull size changes in moles},
  number={9},
  volume={9},
  journal={Royal Society Open Science},
  author={Nováková, Lucie and Lazaro, Javier and Muturi, Marion and Dullin, Christian and Dechmann, Dina K. N.},
  note={Article Number: 220652}
}
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