The Powers Lab just wrapped up the 2017 field season at the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) in the Chiricahua Mountains, SE Arizona. We were joined this year by Anusha Shankar, who along with research student Isabelle Cisneros, tackled the difficult task of tracking overnight changes in hummingbird body temperature. Our primary goal in this study was to see if hummingbirds use regulated shallow torpor (hypothermia) as an alternative to deep torpor at night. The protocol called for the birds to be outside (natural light and temperature cycles) in an open container that would allow them to just leave when they woke up in the morning. Ultimately we got some great data, but both Anusha and Isabelle the days continually modifying the chambers reducing the large plexiglas box that was originally designed to a small cubical that would place the bird in good filming position. In the end we got some great data, including one bird that appears to have used regulated shallow torpor!
Research student Kaheela Reid was also with us in Arizona to do experiments measuring the influence of evaporative heat dissipation on resting metabolic rate in hummingbirds. We ended up have significant system design issues that prevented us from getting any good data, but we will work on this back in the lab and perhaps try again next year.
We are not back in the lab crunching number and preparing for the many we will be doing in the coming months!