The lab has grown significantly in 2012, with the addition of three new honours students as well as the return of Phil Matthews from Adelaide. Phil will take up an Australian Research Council DECRA in April, and will continue his work on discontinuous gas exchange in insects. Recent publications from the lab include the first paper from Nat’s PhD showing that cockroaches that breathe discontinuously survivive food and water deprivation better than those that do not. Other recent publications have examined the mechanistic basis of discontinuous gas exchange in several species of insect, including beetles, grasshoppers, and our ever-popular cockroaches. We have also documented the scaling of metabolic rate in marine bryozoans, the association between bone vasculature and activity capacity in dinosaurs, the effect of UV-B on metabolic rate in tadpoles, and metabolic cold adaptation in fish. Full details of recent publications are available here.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.