Metabolic rate reveals the demands of an Arctic existence in cormorants

A new paper, just published in Ecology, examines day-to-day variation in the energy expenditure of great cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo at the northern limit of the range, above the Arctic circle.  Using a biologging approach, we measured metabolic rate and diving behaviour every second day for a complete year. We expected these birds to have exceptionally high rates of energy expenditure, because they live in a cold environment, forage in sub-zero water, and have a partially wettable plumage.  However, contrary to this expectation, we show that great cormorants in theArctic are extremely efficient foragers and thereby minimise their foraging time and actually show very low rates of energy expenditure.

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Using light as a lure is an efficient predatory strategy in an Australian glowworm

The results of Robyn Willis’ honours research, supervised by Dave Merritt and Craig White, has shown that bioluminescence is cheap for the Australian glowworm Arachnocampa flava.  Her paper has just appeared online in the Journal of Comparative Physiology B.

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Discontinuous gas exchange in insects: Is it all in their heads?

Phil Matthews’ latest research, available online in The American Naturalist, proposes a new Neural Hypothesis for discontinuous gas exchange in insects.  This hypothesis suggests that discontinuous gas exchange results from the thoracic and abdominal ganglia regulating ventilation in the absence of control from higher neural centers, and it is indicative of a sleeplike state.

Matthews, P.G.D. and White, C.R. (In press) Discontinuous gas exchange in insects: Is it all in their heads? American Naturalist.

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Will cormorants benefit from a warming Arctic?

A new paper, accepted this week for publication in Ibis, examines the relationship between sea surface temperature and rates of population change of great cormorants that breed near Disko Island, Greenland.  Cormorant populations in this area increase in size when sea temperature is high and decrease when temperatures are low, suggesting that Arctic warming will lead to an increase in the population of these birds in Greenland.

White, C.R., Boertmann, D., Grémillet, D., Butler, P.J., Green, J.A., Martin, G.R. (In press) The relationship between sea surface temperature and population change of Great Cormorants breeding near Disko Bay, Greenland. Ibis

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White Lab at SEB 2010

Research conducted in the White lab was presented in 5 talks and 4 posters at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Main Meeting in Prague. The meeting was attended by Craig White, Philip Matthews, and Natalie Schimpf.

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