Biology

Activity patterns in mammals: Circadian dominance challenged

by David G. Hazlerigg, Nicholas J. C. Tyler

The evidence that diel patterns of physiology and behaviour in mammals are governed by circadian ‘clocks’ is based almost entirely on studies of nocturnal rodents. The emergent circadian paradigm, however, neglects the roles of energy metabolism and alimentary function (feeding and digestion) as determinants of activity pattern. The temporal control of activity varies widely across taxa, and ungulates, microtine rodents, and insectivores provide examples in which circadian timekeeping is vestigial. The nocturnal rodent/human paradigm of circadian organisation is unhelpful when considering the broader manifestation of activity patterns in mammals.

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