Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Environment

Brine shrimp tolerance of environmental changes

Brine shrimp, Artemia franciscana, are neat little aquatic crustaceans. According to the University of Utah, these tiny creatures grow to about 1cm in length. They are a favorite meal choice of some migratory birds and they are often sold for use as food for fish destined for human consumption. Christopher Melendez, a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Casey Mueller at California State University San Marcos, presented his research on brine […]

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Environmental impact on physiology

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 […]

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Study shows warm-blooded animals adapt better to climate changes

A new study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution looked at fossil records, current distributions and the phylogenetic relationships for over 11,000 terrestrial vertebrates. Using historical records to reconstruct climate and geographical ranges they found that birds and mammals were more successful and faster than cold-blooded animals at adapting to climate changes as well as expanding or changing the location or range of their habitats. In a quote from Scientific American, […]

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#1: Is there an evolutionary advantage to “being stupid”?

And the #1 blog entry published thus far in 2017 discussed whether there was an evolutionary advantage to being stupid: —- As I was looking through the scientific literature the other day, I came across an article published in 1973, “The Evolutionary Advantages of Being Stupid.” With a title like that, how could I not read it? In this article Dr. Eugene D. Robin discussed how larger and more complex brains are […]

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Attempts to save Houston’s bats

Got bugs? Get a bat. As many species of bats are insectivores, they help keep insect populations in check. Hurricane Harvey has been devastating to people, animals and property. So it probably comes as no surprise that there are many volunteers dedicating their time to saving animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey as well. From squirrels, cats and dogs to…you guessed it…bats. It turns out that bats are not very good […]

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Warm Waters = Smaller Fish

I love fishing. As with every fisherman, I have my fair share of “the one that got away” stories steeped in *mostly* truth. So, you can imagine my interest in reading research that shows fish appear to be shrinking in warming waters. Warm waters carry less oxygen, which makes it difficult for fish to breath…especially larger fish. Metabolism is also higher in fish living in warm waters. Higher metabolism means the […]

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Benefits to being furry, but not fat, in a cold environment

To deal with cold environments, mammals have several options. They could produce heat by increasing metabolism or shivering or they could conserve heat by constricting blood vessels in their skin or snuggling with a friend or insulating materials. With this in mind, researchers wondered how varying levels of insulation (obesity, fur) in mice affected heat loss and how much energy the animals used to maintain body heat. Their thinking was […]

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Avian vascular anatomy revealed

This is such a beautiful award-winning image of the complex vascular networks in a pigeon. The image was captured using  CT scan technology and a novel contrasting agent called BriteVu that allows visualization of even tiny capillaries. This image was captured by Scott Echols who is a member of the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, whose goals are to create technologies to study animal anatomy. The complex capillary network located in […]

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Guest Blog: Liver genes of Cope’s gray treefrog provide clues to low temperature and freezing

Dr. Clara do Amaral is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Dayton in Ohio where she studies freeze tolerance in frogs. She received a Research Recognition Award from the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society at the 2017 Experimental Biology meeting in Chicago, IL. She prepared this award-winning guest blog entry to describe her interesting research: The Cope’s gray treefrog is a small frog that occurs in […]

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Thirsty koalas saved by drinking fountains

Thank you Dr. Barb Goodman (Director of SD Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, Fellow of the American Physiological Society, Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota) who sent me information about thirsty koalas. Koalas typically hydrate themselves from the leaves of eucalyptus trees. But recently researchers at the University of Sydney have noticed the animals are drinking water as eucalyptus trees have succumbed to wildfires and climate change. […]

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