- Seger, Rita Logan
University of Maine Graduate School
Mechanical strain is an essential anabolic stimulus for bone. Skeletal unloading causes rapid, marked bone loss. Hibernating bears uniquely avoid net bone loss, and maintain eucalcemia, during approximately six months of immobility and anuria. This study's first goal was to elucidate the mechanism by which the hibernating black bear (Ursus americanus) maintains eucalcemia, by developing a biochemical and radiographic picture of bone metabolism in active and hibernating, free-ranging, female black bears. The second goal was to compare lactating and non-lactating, hibernating bears to understand how skeletal demands of milk production, effects of unloading, and the need to maintain eucalcemia, are balanced.