Yes, you read that right. Ornithologists in Australia have received enough witness accounts of birds starting new fires by picking up burning twigs to believe the birds may actually be starting fires deliberately. They think these so-called ‘firehawks’ start fires to flush out prey. Yikes!
A new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored the effects of modest heat stress (35°C, 95°F) on the physiology of pigs. The found that pigs exposed to heat stress ate less than those exposed to ambient temperatures. I understand. I eat less when it is hot outside too. Since skeletal muscle is such a large metabolically active tissue, things that alter muscle metabolism […]
‘Tis the season. Check out this video from YouTube explaining why certain species of reindeer do indeed have red noses. As Christmas draws near, these blood vessels will help keep Rudolphs’ nose warm as he leads the way for Santa’s sleigh. Sometimes I wish I had more blood vessels in my nose too as my nose is always cold in the winter.
Just in time for Thanksgiving… While wild turkeys are known to spend time in the snow, I read an interesting article about the effects of cold exposure on livestock during transport. According to the article, nearly all livestock animals are transported at some point in their life, which can be pretty stressful to the animals. In fact, some turkeys lose weight during transport and others do not even make it […]
Here’s something to think about. How do fish optimize gas exchange in their gills to efficiently take up oxygen (favoring large, thin, permeable membranes) while at the same time limiting water and ion movement across the surface? If they reduce surface area, then oxygen transfer will be limited, but ions and water transfer will be optimized. What is a fish to do? A new review article published in Physiology discussed how […]
As I prepare to leave the great city of New Orleans at the end of a fabulous conference, I can’t help but mention one final poster that I saw titled, “Depressing mitochondrial function during paradoxical anaerobism leads to an alcoholic fish.” It seemed appropriate given our conference hotel was on Bourbon Street. This poster, presented by Dr. Stanley Hillyard (University of Nevada – Las Vegas) examined desert pupfish (Cyprinodon spp). […]
Ground squirrels are known for their remarkable ability to tolerate hypothermic conditions. Humans are not. Dr. JingXing Ou (National Institutes of Health) presented an interesting talk that explored using induced pluripotent neuronal stem cells isolated from these mammalian hibernators to improve tissue integrity for organ transplants. By understanding which pathways protected ground squirrel cells from cold-damage, these pathways could be manipulated in human induced pluripotent neuronal stem cells and improve […]
There are many examples of animals that can naturally tolerate hypoxic and anoxic conditions without exhibiting pathologies associated with reoxygenation. Here are a few examples from this year’s conference: Dr. Anthony Signore (University of Nebraska) spoke about how some hypoxia tolerant animals can use carbon monoxide, you know that gas we think of as poisonous, to improve oxygen binding to hemoglobin in hypoxic conditions. Well known for their ability to […]
Victor Zhang (Graduate Student working with Dr. Loren Buck at Northern Arizona University) gave an interesting talk on his research to measure stress and activity patterns in free living arctic ground squirrels. They found overall that females were less stressed than males although stress levels and activity varied during lactation. I think some human mothers can agree with those observations. Oliver Wearing (Graduate student working with Dr. Graham Scott […]
Now for highlights from the Arizona Physiological Society poster session that took place on October 5th. Alex Mohr (Graduate Student, Arizona State University – Phoenix) presented his research on dietary carotenoids, which are yellow, orange and red pigments synthesized by plants. Birds are known for using these dietary carotenoids for coloration (see the male mallard in the photo above). While some research suggests that carotenoids may also act as antioxidants in […]