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The results, published last year in “Drivers of hibernation in the brown bear,” are insightful because it allowed the researchers to develop correlations between the variables that drive and trigger and hibernation.In fall, well before hibernation begins, body temperature and heart rate of bears began to decrease.Heart rate started to slow, on average, 24 days before den entry, and body temperature began to drop 13 days before den entry.
During this time, they hardly breathe, taking 1.5 breaths per minute on average.
It took an additional 20 days after for heart rate and metabolic activity to bottom out.
The transition back to a more active physiology started long before bears left their dens.
Den entry (left column) and exit (right column) are indicated by time zero (the green vertical line) to determine the sequence of physiological events.
SDANN is the standard deviation of heart rate variability over five minute intervals. A red line denotes when a variable was decreasing, while a blue line indicates when a variable was increasing, with the number of days from the entry/exit indicated.