CIE Seminar Series 2015 – Diverse Functions of Torpor

Fritz GeiserSPEAKER: Professor Fritz Geiser, Professor of Zoology, Centre for Behavioural and Physiological Ecology – Zoology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW
DATE: Friday, 24th April 2015
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka5.303
TIME: 12:00 noon
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood LT5 (B3.07); and Warrnambool Campus, Room G1.01 (Percy Baxter LT)

ABSTRACT: Although energy conservation by adult, cold-climate endotherms in winter is often viewed as the main function of torpor, recent evidence suggests that this may not always be the case and that other functions may be equally important.

Torpor, which is used by many heterothermic mammals and birds from all climate zones, allows reproduction with limited or fluctuating food supply, delays parturition until conditions become more favourable for mother and offspring, and appears to increase the efficiency of energy and nutrient use during development. Further, torpor reduces water requirements and appears to ensure persistence during droughts, but interestingly also during cyclones associated with high wind and heavy rain.

Recent data suggest that even after forest fires, torpor permits survival on limited resources and the low foraging requirements resulting from torpor use reduce exposure to predators, which in turn seems to be one of the reasons for the low rates of extinction in heterothermic mammals. Thus, the functions of torpor are diverse and go well beyond energy conservation of adults during cold winters.

BIO: Fritz Geiser received his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany, a PhD from the Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, and held post-doctoral positions at the University of Washington, USA, and the University of Adelaide.

He has worked in Zoology at the University of New England, Armidale, Australia, since 1988, but during this time has conducted projects in Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, South Africa and the USA.

He is interested in comparative and environmental physiology of animals and most of his work concerns ecological physiology and biochemistry of mammals and birds especially with regard to hibernation and daily torpor. He has published over 200 papers on these and related topics.

Currently, he is Professor of Zoology, Director of the Centre of Behavioural and Physiological Ecology, and ARC Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) Fellow.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Vincent Careau