Shaving increases daily energy expenditure in free-living root voles

Paulina A. Szafrańska, Karol Zub, Monika Wieczorek, Aneta Książek, John R. Speakman, Marek Konarzewski

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Experimental manipulation of energy expenditure has long been recognized as an effective means for identifying causative effects and avoiding confounded interpretations arising from spurious correlations. This approach has been successfully applied mainly to studies on birds, particularly on reproducing adults, whereas manipulations in mammals have proved more problematic. Here, we tested the hypothesis that shaving off 50% of the dorsal pelage should effectively increase energy expenditure in wild root voles (Microtus oeconomus) in their natural environment. We measured daily energy expenditure (DEE), using doubly labelled water in shaved and unshaved voles at the beginning of winter. The difference in DEE (corrected for body mass and year effects) between experimental and control group fluctuated from 11.5% to 17.3%. Probability of recapture over the 3 day DEE assay was strongly dependent on body mass, but did not differ between shaved and unshaved animals; however, a prevalence of larger (heavier) shaved individuals was observed. Shaved animals lost more weight between the first and second trapping. Shaving therefore appears to be an effective method of increasing the cost of total DEE in wild endotherms in their natural environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3964-3967
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number22
Early online date12 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank numerous students, especially Britta Adam and Izabela Podbielska, for their help in field work and technical assistance. We also thank Tomasz Samojlik for drawing Fig. 1. Catherine Hambly and Peter Thompson provided technical support for the isotope analyses. We are grateful to the Institute of Biology in Białystok for allowing us to use their Field Station in Gugny. We are also thankful to two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

This study was supported by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education grant NN304349335 to P.A.S. J.R.S. was supported by a 1000 talents professorship of the Chinese government.


  • Body mass
  • Doubly labelled water
  • Fur insulation
  • mammal
  • metabolic rate
  • thermoregulation


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