Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Climate Change

Live fast, die young

Researchers have long known that smaller animals have higher metabolisms and tend to die younger than larger animals. Think about it – a mouse typically only lives about 2 years whereas an elephant in the wild may live 50-70 years, depending on the species. After studying over 700 species of birds and 540 species of mammals, scientists discovered that migratory animals also live faster (mature and reproduce earlier) and die […]

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How a really long winter’s nap can impact sperm production

As winter approaches, hibernating animals will finalize their preparations for taking a ‘long winter’s nap’. These remarkable animals reduce their metabolism to help conserve energy at a time when environmental resources are scarce and considerable energy would otherwise need to be spent on just staying warm. For many species of hibernators, periodically entering this state of torpor allows them to reduce their energy needs by 90% compared to intermittent states […]

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Getting away from salt – the transition to life on land

The transition of vertebrates from the salty ocean to life on land required the ability for these animals to change how they dealt with salt. While salt is essential for many cellular functions, salt balance must be tightly regulated to prevent illness or even death. Animals that live in a salty environment have evolved the ability to get rid of excess salt from their bodies whereas land-dwelling animals evolved the […]

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There it is!

Somali elephant shrews were thought to be extinct until someone caught a glimpse of this little fellow. It is the first sighting of a Somali elephant shrew in 50 years! This adorable creature is actually related to elephants and aardvarks. While they typically eat ants, researchers were able to attract this shrew using oatmeal, peanut butter, and marmite…yum!

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Exploring how temperature impacts the characteristics of animals

We are delighted to speak with Dr. Casey Mueller who is currently an Assistant Professor at California State University San Marcos. Dr. Mueller is a member of the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society and was scheduled to present her research at the 2020 Experimental Biology conference last month. Unfortunately, the conference was cancelled due to Covid-19. Her researchappears in the May issue of the FASEB […]

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The Effects of Ocean Acidification on California Sea Hare

Today’s guest blog entry comes from Rebecca Zlatkin. Rebecca ‘Becky’ Zlatkin was born and raised in Miami, FL and recently graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology and a minor in Biology. Previously a student at Miami Dade College’s Honor College, Becky came to the lab of Martin Grosell at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science through the Bridge to Baccalaureate Program, a collaboration […]

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Hot Chicks, Cool Dudes: How sex can be shaped by temperature

This guest blog entry was written by the 2020 Dr. Dolittle Award recipient, Rosario Marroquín-Flores, a Biology doctoral student currently studying at Illinois State University. The Dr. Dolittle Award is given to a trainee in the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society who submits the best blog entry describing their research project. Congratulations on a well-deserved award for this guest blog:   Hot Chicks, Cool Dudes: […]

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Tardigrades are not so tolerant after all

…at least when it comes to dealing with warming temperatures. In contrast to their reputation for being able to withstand almost any extreme environment (radiation, cold, drought, vaccuum of space), researchers at the University of Copenhagen have found that tardigrades may have an Achilles heal. They appear intolerant of sustained increases in temperature.  Study author Dr. Ricardo Neves was quoted in Science Daily, “The specimens used in this study were […]

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How some fish may compensate for low environmental oxygen

     Adult fish rely on gills to extract oxygen from the surrounding water. Larval fish, on the other hand, do not have well-developed gills and instead rely primarily on gas exchange across their skin.      In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers examined whether larval fish could use their pectoral fins to increase the flow of water […]

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Warm hypoxic waters impair heart function in some fish

Events causing bodies of water to become hypoxic (low oxygen levels) are increasing with climate change. Water can become hypoxic when it warms up or there are changes in tidal flow, density, wind patterns as well as separation from the main source, such as occurs in a tidepool. While some fish are tolerant of hypoxia and even anoxia (oxygen depleted) environments others, such as Atlantic cod and steelhead trout, rely […]

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