Despite maintaining high body temperatures during the winter, bears really do hibernate, concludes a first-of-its-kind glimpse into the annual dormancy of black bears.
American black bear
Credit: Øivind Tøien
The research, published this week in linkurl:Science,; resolves the longstanding question about the bears' winter activities and offers novel insights into hibernation physiology, such as identifying a dramatic drop in metabolic rate."It is a really heroic effort," linkurl:Gerhard Heldmaier; of Philipps-Universitat Marburg in Germany, who was not involved in the research, said in an email to The Scientist. Bears hibernate on average 5 to 7 months a year, during which time they don't eat, drink, urinate or defecate. Øivind Tøien and colleagues at the linkurl:Institute of Arctic Biology; at the University of Alaska Fairbanks monitored the metabolic activity and body temperature of five black bears day and night for five months, an unprecedented undertaking. The bears -- nuisance animals...
Snoring black bear
Video by Øivind Tøien
American black bear
Credit: Øivind Tøien
Tøien, Ø., et al., "Hibernation in Black Bears: Independence of Metabolic Suppression from Body Temperature," Science, 331:906-9.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?