We studied the putative effect of early experience on the physiological flexibility of metabolic and osmoregulatory traits in the leaf-eared mouse Phyllotis darwini, an altricial rodent inhabiting seasonal mediterranean environments. Adult individuals were collected in central Chile and maintained in breeding pairs. Pups were isolated after weaning and acclimated to different temperature (cold or warm) and water availability (unrestricted and restricted) until adulthood. Subsequently, individuals were re-acclimated to the opposite treatment. Rodents reared in warm and subjected to water restriction had lower basal metabolic rate (BMR), lower total evaporative water loss (TEWL), and body mass (Mb) compared to those developing in the cold treatment; nevertheless, individuals subjected to warm temperatures had greater relative medullary thickness (RMT) and urine concentrating ability (UCA). Cold-reared rodents re-acclimated to warm conditions exhibited physiological flexibility of metabolic traits; however, their osmoregulatory attributes did not vary. Conversely, warm-reared rodents re-acclimated to cold had reduced RMT and UCA, but the metabolic traits of these individuals did not change; these results suggest a trade-off between metabolic performance and renal capabilities that might hinder physiological acclimation. Our results support the hypothesis of ontogenetic dependence of short-term acclimation in osmoregulatory and metabolic traits in Phyllotis darwini.
- Received October 5, 2016.
- Accepted May 4, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd