Ground squirrels are active during the summer (left), but hibernate from autumn until spring (right; photos J. Staples)
Hibernation Metabolism: Many species of small mammals, such as this 13-lined Ground Squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus), survive winters by entering hibernation. During hibernation body temperatures may fall below freezing and metabolic rates are reduced by over 90%, conditions that would kill most mammals. My research examines the nature of this metabolic reduction at the cellular, mitochondrial and enzyme level. You can see more about hibernation in this partially accurate outake from CBC's "Wild Canadian Year" that features one of my research animals. You can also read about hibernation (and insect diapause) in this article from the Western Gazette.
Thermal Image of a ground squirrel arousing from torpor.
(Image A. MacCannell & G. Tattersall)
Non-invasive MRI images of a hibernating 13-lined ground squirrel.
We use MRI to measure the amount of adipose tissue, both white and brown, and how it changes as ground squirrels prepare for the hibernation season. See Amanda's poster from the 2016 International Hibernation Symposium here.
(Image by Amanda MacCannell, Kevin Sinclair, Lanette Friesen-Waldner, Charles MacKenzie, edited by Kate Mathers)
Dec. 2020: See Dr. Staples' comments on an excellent research paper here.
Feb. 2020: See Dr. Staples' Seminar "Groundhog Day: The Biology of Hibernation" here.
Aug. 2019: Birgitte Jensen wins Best student poster prize at ICCPB2019! See Birgitte's poster here.
Aug. 2019: Brynne Duffy wins Runner-up for the student poster prize at ICCPB2019! See Brynne's poster here.
Feb. 2019: Read about how animals deal with cold climates here.
Congratulations to Kate Mathers for a great defence of her Ph.D. thesis. You can hear about Kate's research at this podcast.
Congratulations to Amanda MacCannell who won the "Best Student Poster" prize at the 2017 50 Years of Comparative Biochemistry: The Legacy of Peter W. Hochachka meeting. See Amanda's poster here.