Daylight study reveals how animals adapt between seasons
In mammals, the duration of the night-time pineal melatonin signal is sculpted by the photoperiod and is a critical regulator of annual cycles of reproduction, growth and metabolism. In a new study, scientists have discovered how a biological switch helps animals make the seasonal changes crucial for survival, such as growing a warm winter coat and adjusting body temperatures. The findings reveal how the brain responds to short and long days to allow animals to adapt to changing conditions and governs vital behaviour such as breeding cycles. Researchers say the study in sheep could help explain the timings of seasonal adaptations in a number of species such as birds, reptiles and mammals.