Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Ocean Life

EB 2022: Seals, seals, and more seals

Several posters at EB 2022 in Philadelphia this month were focused on understanding the remarkable physiology of diving seals. Although we may think of the image below when we picture seals, they really are quite the athletes in water. Kaitlin Allen (a graduate student working in the laboratory of Dr. José Pablo Vázquez-Medina at the University of California Berkeley) presented her research on Northern elephant seals and how these animals […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

Secrets to rockfish longevity revealed

Rockfish have gained the attention of scientists due to their exceptional longevity. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley sequenced the complete genome of 88 species of rockfish in the Pacific Ocean to try to find clues that could explain their longevity. While some are rather short-lived (ex: calico rockfish, Sebastes dallii, only live around 10 years), longer-lived species, like rougheye rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus), can live to be over 200 […]

Continue Reading →

Scientists get a glimpse of what makes cephalopods so smart

From walking on land, to solving complex problems, cephalopods continue to amaze us with their intelligence and nervous system development. In a new study published in Current Biology, Dr. Wen-Sung Chung from the University of Queensland Brain Institute and colleagues decided to take a closer look at what makes their brains unique using MRI imaging. Compared to other invertebrates, cephalopods are rather brainy. In fact, some cephalopods have over 500 […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

Combating kidney stones

If you have ever had a pet with kidney stones, you know that diet can be a major contributing factor to their formation. This is why veterinarians often recommend providing animals with foods higher in water content and switching to a diet that promotes a healthy urine pH (not too basic, not too acidic).   Did you know that bottlenose dolphins can develop kidney stones too? The particular kind of […]

Continue Reading →

Why sharks should be afraid of leopard seals

Leopard seals in New Zealand have a dangerous appetite. Although the animals were known to eat penguins and other seals, researchers only recently discovered that sharks were on the menu as well, which was really surprising. They made this discovery while analyzing fecal samples collected from more than 100 leopard seals. Leopard seals appear to have joined a growing list of animals (orcas, giant octopus) that dine on what we […]

Continue Reading →

Snoring seals can teach us so much about sleep apnea

When I think of sleep apnea, the first thing that comes to mind is snoring. People, and animals, that have sleep apnea periodically stop breathing when they are sleeping and wake up when their brain senses the drop in oxygen. Understandably, people with sleep apnea often feel tired and have difficulty concentrating. Just imagine having your sleep interrupted night after night. Because of the changes in blood oxygen, people with […]

Continue Reading →