In humans, pregnancy can be an uncomfortable time as the growing fetus makes it more difficult to breathe. It can also become more difficult for the expectant mother to get around. It may be surprising to find out that grasshoppers may develop similar issues when they are ‘expecting’. In fact, a gravid grasshopper can carry an egg mass that makes up as much as 40% of their weight! Could you imagine what it would be like for a human to carry that much extra mass? Wow!
At last month’s Experimental Biology conference, Dr. Scott Kirkton, from Union College, and his team shared data from their study examining breathing and jumping in gravid grasshoppers. They found that grasshoppers compensate for difficulty in breathing by simply increasing their rate of breathing. They also found that the gravid grasshoppers had a lower rate of jumping although jumping distance was not changed.
S Kirkton, AC Valachovic, D Zembrzuski, D Raffaelli, GM Heiting, AJ Sheahan. Gravidity impacts respiratory function, tracheal volume, and jump performance in grasshoppers. Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology Section of the American Physiological Society, 2022 Experimental Biology Conference.