Science Diary: Bears – Seasonal

Science Diary: Bears – Seasonal

Music; Ambience: bear

HJ and JW: “Most species that live above the equator use changes in day length as one of the most reliable indicators of the season, but I think what we’re appreciating now is that the bear probably has some tweaks in that system and utilizes multiple systems to evoke some of these changes.”

JM: During the long months of winter hibernation, a bear doesn’t eat, doesn’t drink much, doesn’t even urinate. And scientists are trying to figure out how bears use environmental signals to time the seasonal transitions of hibernation. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. At Washington State University, Heiko Jansen and Jasmine Ware are using neuroscience to study bear behavior. Right now we’re listening to the sounds of a wide awake bear.

HJ and JW: “The environmental changes are coming in and not only that, but metabolic changes are coming into the brain, and it’s somehow causing the animal to understand that it’s time to do a certain action, and that we don’t know how they do that. We know how light comes into the brain and where it goes and what happens, but light isn’t the only cue the bears are using. They’re using other things, and the bears have drastically different hormonal profiles and chemical profiles at different times of the year. And we think all of that may also be affecting these underlying rhythms that the bears generate and how they are seasonal and how they know when to hibernate and when to get up and when to reproduce and when to sleep and when to eat.”

JM: By analyzing chemical changes in bears, scientists may gain a better understanding of human medical conditions, like seasonal affective disorder: a form of depression that comes on with the short, dark days of winter. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.

Science Diary: Bears - Seasonal

A mix of environmental factors and metabolic changes cue bears to seasonal changes.
Air Date:03/28/2014
Scientist:
Transcript:

Science Diary: Bears - Seasonal

Music; Ambience: bear

HJ and JW: "Most species that live above the equator use changes in day length as one of the most reliable indicators of the season, but I think what we're appreciating now is that the bear probably has some tweaks in that system and utilizes multiple systems to evoke some of these changes."

JM: During the long months of winter hibernation, a bear doesn't eat, doesn't drink much, doesn't even urinate. And scientists are trying to figure out how bears use environmental signals to time the seasonal transitions of hibernation. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. At Washington State University, Heiko Jansen and Jasmine Ware are using neuroscience to study bear behavior. Right now we're listening to the sounds of a wide awake bear.

HJ and JW: "The environmental changes are coming in and not only that, but metabolic changes are coming into the brain, and it's somehow causing the animal to understand that it's time to do a certain action, and that we don't know how they do that. We know how light comes into the brain and where it goes and what happens, but light isn't the only cue the bears are using. They're using other things, and the bears have drastically different hormonal profiles and chemical profiles at different times of the year. And we think all of that may also be affecting these underlying rhythms that the bears generate and how they are seasonal and how they know when to hibernate and when to get up and when to reproduce and when to sleep and when to eat."

JM: By analyzing chemical changes in bears, scientists may gain a better understanding of human medical conditions, like seasonal affective disorder: a form of depression that comes on with the short, dark days of winter. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.