Several of the comparative physiology posters and talks presented at the Experimental Biology conference today focused on the impact of environmental changes on the physiology of animals. Here are some highlights:
Rachel Heuer, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami working with Dr. Martin Grosell, examined the effects of crude oil on heart function in mahi-mahi. As the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred when these fish were spawning, it is important to understand how exposure to crude oil impacts development and physiology of fish. Her research found that crude oil reduces the ability for muscle cells from the heart to contract.
Lindsey Korito, an undergraduate student from California State University at San Marcos working with Dr. Casey Mueller, presented a poster describing the effects of warming temperatures on Baja California Chorus Frogs. Her research showed that warm temperatures (20degC), reduced the time it took eggs to hatch and increased oxygen consumption of the embryos.
Sheena Lyn, a graduate student working with John VandenBrooks at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona presented research on how variations in atmospheric oxygen impact wing morphology and flight performance in drosophila and Blatella germanica, i.e. cockroaches. The results showed that insects reared in a high oxygen environment had smaller wing area, the diameter of the wing veins was also smaller, although these flies had the best flight performance. In contrast, insects reared in low oxygen environments had larger wing area, wing vein diameter and were not as good at flying.