Chappell MA, Hammond KA (2004) Maximal aerobic performance of deer mice in combined cold and exercise challenges. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, in press.
ABSTRACT -- In nature, animals frequently must deal with several physiological challenges simultaneously. We examined thermoregulatory performance (body temperature stability) and maximal oxygen consumption of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) during intense exercise at room temperature, acute cold exposure, and exercise during cold exposure. Results with exercise and cold exposure alone were consistent with previous results: there was little difference between maximal metabolism elicited by exercise alone or cold exposure alone in warm acclimated mice; after cold acclimation (9 weeks at 5 °C), maximal exercise metabolism did not change but maximum thermogenic capacity increased by >60%. Warm acclimated animals did not increase maximal oxygen consumption when exercise was combined with moderate cold (0 °C) and had decreased maximal oxygen consumption when exercise was combined with severe cold (16 °C). Combined cold and exercise also decreased thermoregulatory performance and exercise endurance time. Cold acclimation improved thermoregulatory performance in combined cold and exercise, and there was also a slight increase in endurance. However, as for warm-acclimated animals, maximal exercise metabolism did not increase at low temperatures. We interpret these results as an indication of competition between thermoregulatory and locomotor effectors (brown adipose tissue and skeletal muscle) under the combined challenges of cold exposure and maximal exercise, with priority given to the locomotor function.