Murray M. Humphries Research People Research Equipment Pictures Collaborators & Funding

Amy Thompson

M.Sc. McGill University (2012)

Occupied Position:
Reporting Coordinator, Navus Environmental Inc

MSc Research

Correlates and consequences of heterothermy in mammals

Mammals are endotherms, capable of maintaining an elevated body temperature independent of their surroundings. Considerable variation exists, however, in the range of body temperatures expressed by a given species. For example, moose maintain a relatively stable body temperature, rarely varying by more than 1°C, while Arctic ground squirrels have been documented to drop their body temperature by close to 40°C. In my research, I examined factors, including body mass, latitude, climate, habitat, food habits, hoarding behaviour, and phylogeny, that may influence the degree of heterothermy expressed in a wide range of species.

In addition to this extensive inter-specific variation in body temperature, there is also considerable intra-specific variation, particularly in species that exhibit extreme heterothermy through a process known as torpor. Torpor allows animals to significantly reduce their energy requirements, through a reduction in body temperature and metabolic rate, during times when environmental conditions are harsh or food availability is low. The potential consequences associated with torpor bouts, however, remain unclear. Thus, secondly, I considered the potential behavioural costs of torpor, specifically focussing on exploration and spatial memory. To explore these costs I used captive eastern chipmunks as a model species in a series of behavioural tests as this species is known to show considerable individual variation in depth and duration of torpor expression. Overall, I am interested in gaining a better understanding of this widespread and complex survival strategy as, even with the current attention, numerous uncertainties remain.

MSc Publication

  • Thompson, A.B., P.-O. Montiglio, M.M. Humphries. In Press. Behavioural impacts of torpor expression: a transient effect in captive eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus). Physiology & Behavior

Other Publications

  • Thompson, A.B., Postey, R.C., Snider, T., and Pasma, T. 2010. Actinobacillus equuli as a primary pathogen in breeding sows and piglets. Can. Vet. J. 51: 1223.

  • Thompson, A.B., and Hare, J.F. 2010. Neighbourhood watch: multiple alarm callers communicate directional predator movement in Richardson’s ground squirrels, Spermophilus richarsonii. Anim. Behav. 80: 269-275.

  • Lindgren, C.J., Postey, R., De Smit, K., Higgs, C., and Thompson, A.B. 2009. West Nile virus as a cause of death among endangered Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes in West St. Paul, Manitoba. Can. Field Nat., 122: 000-000.

  • Sexsmith, J.L., Whiting, T.L., Green, C., Orvis, S., Berezanski, D.J., and Thompson, A.B. 2009. Prevalence and distribution of Baylisascaris procyonis in urban raccoons (Procyon lotor) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Can. Vet. J. 50: 846-850.

  • Thompson, A.B., Glover, G.J., Postey, R.C., Sexsmith, J.L., Hutchison, T.W.S., and Kazacos, K.R. 2008. Baylisascaris procyonis encephalitis in Patagonian conures (Cyanoliseus patagonus), crested screamers (Chauna torquata), and a western Canadian porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum epixanthus) in a Manitoba zoo. Can. Vet. J. 49: 885-888.

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Created: January 2005
Last Updated: January 2014