Stress-induced rise in body temperature is repeatable in free-ranging Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus)

Vincent Careau*, Denis Réale, Dany Garant, John R. Speakman, Murray M. Humphries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


In response to handling or other acute stressors, most mammals, including humans, experience a temporary rise in body temperature (T b). Although this stress-induced rise in T b has been extensively studied on model organisms under controlled environments, individual variation in this interesting phenomenon has not been examined in the field. We investigated the stress-induced rise in T b in free-ranging eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) to determine first if it is repeatable. We predicted that the stress-induced rise in T b should be positively correlated to factors affecting heat production and heat dissipation, including ambient temperature (T a), body mass (M b), and field metabolic rate (FMR). Over two summers, we recorded both T b within the first minute of handling time (T b1) and after 5 min of handling time (T b5) 294 times on 140 individuals. The mean ΔT b (T b5 - T b1) during this short interval was 0.30 ± 0.02°C, confirming that the stress-induced rise in T b occurs in chipmunks. Consistent differences among individuals accounted for 40% of the total variation in ΔT b (i. e. the stress-induced rise in T b is significantly repeatable). We also found that the stress-induced rise in T b was positively correlated to T a, M b, and mass-adjusted FMR. These results confirm that individuals consistently differ in their expression of the stress-induced rise in T b and that the extent of its expression is affected by factors related to heat production and dissipation. We highlight some research constraints and opportunities related to the integration of this laboratory paradigm into physiological and evolutionary ecology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-414
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Issue number3
Early online date11 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Animals were captured and handled with compliance to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (#2007-DT01-Université de Sherbrooke) and the Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune du Québec (#2008-04-15-101-05-S–F). We thank all field assistants who have helped to collect the data presented in this paper and P. Bourgault, M. Landry-Cuerrier, and D. Munro for coordination work, P. Thomson and P. Redman for technical assistance with isotope analysis. We also thank F. Pelletier and reviewers for comments on previous drafts. This research was supported by a Québec FQRNT team grant, NSERC discovery grants to DR, DG, and MMH, a NSERC doctoral scholarship to VC, who wishes to thank the late Don Thomas for their first talk on emotional fever.


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Daily energy expenditure
  • Emotional fever
  • Heat dissipation
  • Repeatability
  • Stress-induced hyperthermia
  • Thermoregulation


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