Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Climate Change

More than milk

Prolactin is an important pituitary hormone in mammals that works with oxytocin to provide milk for offspring. It also plays a role in promoting bonding between new mothers and their offspring. But did you know that non-mammalian vertebrates have prolactin too? Considering non-mammalian organisms do not have mammary glands, it must serve a different purpose in these animals.   As it turns out, prolactin is very important in the ability […]

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EB2022: Facing Oxygen Challenges

I learned a lot about how animals adapt to changing environmental oxygen levels in the Experimental Biology symposium on “Functional Integration across the Oxygen Cascade in the Face of Challenging Environments.” Here is what I learned… The first presenter, Dr. Lara do Amaral-Silva (postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro working with Dr. Joseph (Joe) Santin), spoke about her research on adaptations in the bullfrog “super-brain” that […]

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EB 2022: Adapting to a changing climate

EB 2022 was a fantastic meeting (as usual) for comparative physiology. This meeting marked the last Experimental Biology conference as each society will be hosting their own meetings going forward. I soaked up as much as I could and will be sharing what I learned at the meeting over the coming weeks. “Predicting Species Physiological Responses to a Changing Climate” The first speaker in this symposium was Dr. Hollie Putnam […]

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Stranger than science fiction: treefrogs that freeze and live to tell the story

Today we have a guest blog written by Elizabeth Evans (pictured above), a graduate student at the University of Dayton working in the laboratory of Dr. Carissa Krane. She presented her research on freeze tolerance today at the 2022 Experimental Biology conference in Philadelphia. She wrote the award-winning blog entry below which earned the 2022 Dr. Dolittle Travel Award to attend the conference. Congratulations Elizabeth!! Stranger than science fiction: treefrogs […]

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2022 August Krogh Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Patricia Schulte

Each year, the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society presents their highest award, the August Krogh Distinguished Lecture, to a comparative physiologist who “has made major and meritorious contributions” to the field. Dr. August Krogh (1874-1949) was a physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1920. He was very interested in zoology and joined the University of Copenhagen as an Associate Professor […]

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Surviving environmental challenges

Red tides happen when dinoflagellate algae populations increase and turn the water a shade of red due their red pigments. These algae consume oxygen in the water and release carbon dioxide and other acidic products that make the surrounding water acidic and hypoxic. These events are becoming more common with climate change. In fact, the most recent event off the coast of Sothern California occurred in 2020 and resulted in […]

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Shape-shifting animals adapting to climate change

A recent review of the existing scientific literature found evidence suggesting that warm-blooded animals may be literally shape-shifting to adapt to climate changes. According to Allen’s rule, animals living in warmer climates have larger appendages than those living in cold climates, which helps increase the available surface area for heat loss to the environment. Such heat exchange mechanisms are very important in thermoregulation to avoid retaining excess heat. The authors […]

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Tenrecs may shed light on the evolution of body temperature regulation

The common tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus) just may be a living representative of ancestral placental mammals and they are very interesting when it comes to body temperature regulation and torpor. Torpor is a complex series of physiological changes that reduce an animal’s physical activity as well as heart, breathing and metabolic rates, which also results in decreases in body temperature than can be as low as their surrounding environment. Many mammalian […]

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Can lobsters lead us to the proverbial ‘Fountain of Youth’?

When thinking about lobsters, some people may think of: Aside from being a favorite menu item, did you know that American lobsters (Homarus americanus) are one of the largest bottom dwelling (i.e. benthic) invertebrate in the ocean? In fact, they seem to be able to grow indefinitely and have been observed to reach over 1 meter in length? For this reason, scientists suspect they may be a rather long-lived species […]

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Bioaccumulation of metals in sharks

A new study highlights the impact of metal accumulation (cobalt, manganese, nickel, copper, iron and mercury) on the health of twenty individual sharks representing 8 species that were accidentally caught by fisheries in Brazil. Necropsies of the animals showed high levels of metals in the liver, gills and rectal glands. Perhaps not surprisingly, larger animals had more accumulation of the metals in their gills than smaller animals. Higher accumulation in […]

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