Why was it important that the researchers tracked the hibernating bear’s movements in study 2?
Researchers studied a species of hibernating black Bears. Each year the Black Bears go into hibernation for a 5-7 month period. During this time, they do not consume any food. Researchers explored the metabolic processes that allow black Bears to survive for so long without eating.
Figures adapted from Hibernation in Black Bears: Independence of Metabolic Suppression from Body Temperature by Oivind Toien et al.
Researchers gathered black Bears and transported them to facilities in Alaska where they were placed in wooden box habitats. The researchers prepared to measure the Black Bears core body temperature and oxygen consumption during hibernation. Core body temperature was measured through implanted radio transmitters, and oxygen consumption was measured through the constant collection and analysis of air in the habitat. EMG was also surgically implanted to measure electrical activity. Results representative of a typical six-day period during hibernation can be observed in Figure 1.
Researchers had additionally installed devices to track the hibernating Black Bears movements including infrared cameras. Once awake, the researchers continued to analyze the Black Bears metabolisms to better understand the process of recovering from hibernation. After having done so, the researchers decided to graph the last several months of hibernation and the post hibernation period, as can be seen in Figure 2. The legend indicates different individual Black Bears. The dashed line indicates the average date the Black Bears woke up from hibernation.
(D) It was important that researchers tracked the bear's movements so that they could determine when the Black Bears awoke from hibernation. Knowing the exact moment of awaking can prevent hibernation data from being confounded with data from the recovery period. Tracking the bear’s movements did not inform the researchers further on the bear’s oxygen consumption or core body temperature. Additionally, the Black Bears did not eat during hibernation making their eating patterns irrelevant.