Farmed mussels attach to aquaculture line with byssal threads in Washington, USA. Photo credit: Mark Stone, UW media relations.

Mussels attach to their habitat using byssal threads, but at what cost?

Roberts, Emily; Newcomb, Laura; McCartha, Michelle; Harrington, Katie; LaFramboise, Sam; Carrington, Emily; Sebens, Kenneth Many plants and sessile animals invest in mechanical attachment to their habitat by producing structural materials. The cost of this attachment can depend on the amount of structure produced to stay attached, but little is known about how much energy many organisms invest in such structures. One way that scientists evaluate … Continue reading Mussels attach to their habitat using byssal threads, but at what cost?

Flight of snow buntings during winter at Rimouski (Québec). Photo credit : Audrey Le Pogam

An Arctic breeding passerine takes advantage of winter phenotypic adjustments to migrate in the cold

Le Pogam, Audrey; O’Connor, Ryan; Love, Oliver; Petit, Magali; Régimbald, Lyette; Vézina, François conditions by increasing their fat store and the mass of their flight muscles. These changes can increase their cold endurance through the production of more heat via shivering. However, birds also increase their fat stores and flight muscle size to provide fuel and  muscle force for long migratory flights. Given the similar … Continue reading An Arctic breeding passerine takes advantage of winter phenotypic adjustments to migrate in the cold

Solitary bee larvae prioritise carbohydrate over protein in parentally provided pollen

Gilbert, James; Austin, Alexander Most organisms must balance their diet in an environment full of complex food choices. This is made harder when control over diet is limited, as when parents choose food on behalf of young. Parents may give young a perfectly balanced diet for development. However, they also may make mistakes and provide the wrong food, or even deliberately skew diets given to … Continue reading Solitary bee larvae prioritise carbohydrate over protein in parentally provided pollen

Zebra finch illustration by Ilse Schrauwers (https://isontwerp.nl)

We need more energy as we age

Briga, Michael ; Verhulst, Simon In humans and in wild mammals and birds, the functioning of our bodies declines with age. Understanding how our organisms age and how this ageing associates with lifespan is crucial for improving our quality of life and lifespan. Our rate of energy consumption or metabolism determines many aspects of our activity, physiology, behaviour and personality. We know that in mammals … Continue reading We need more energy as we age

Male Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna). Photo credit: Tony Varela Photography

When do hummingbirds use torpor? Body size and the environment make a difference

Spence, Austin; Tingley, Morgan Hummingbirds need a lot of energy. Their resting body temperature is around 40º C and their main method of flying, hovering, requires more energy than any other form of locomotion. Despite these energetic requirements, hummingbirds live across North and South America at a wide range of elevations. To live in these diverse environments while managing their energy needs, hummingbirds use a … Continue reading When do hummingbirds use torpor? Body size and the environment make a difference

Improved estimation of gut passage time considerably affects trait-based dispersal models

Andrew J. Abraham, Tomos O. Prys‐Jones, Annelies De Cuyper, Chase Ridenour, Gareth P. Hempson, Toby Hocking, Marcus Clauss, Christopher E. Doughty It is increasingly understood that animals are important for the movement of seeds, nutrients and microbes across the surface of Earth. A key factor for estimating exactly how important an animal is for these transportation services, is the time it takes between an animal … Continue reading Improved estimation of gut passage time considerably affects trait-based dispersal models

Relationship between heat hardening capacity of Sinonovacula constricta and seasonal temperature variation. (a) The frequency of operative temperatures that S. constricta experienced in the intertidal mudflat as measured by buried roboclams; arrows point to the maximum temperature recorded. (b) Effects of heat hardening in shifting the Arrhenius break temperature (ABT) of S. constricta after heat stress treatments of clams collected in June, September, December and April, respectively. (c) Comparable data for flatline temperature (FLT). Red circles indicate significant increases in ABT or FLT and the blue circle indicates a significant decrease. The red short line (–) indicates no significant change in ABT or FLT caused by heat hardeninghide

Synchronization of seasonal acclimatization and short-term heat hardening improves physiological resilience in a changing climate

Dong, Yun-wei; Zhang, Wenyi; Storey, Kenneth Anthropogenic global warming is one of the biggest environmental problems at present and how organisms cope with the rising temperatures raises more and more concerns. To understand the capability of organisms to survive future warming, it is important to study their physiological plasticity, the ability to adjust thermal tolerance to deal with high temperature. Physiological plasticity can take place … Continue reading Synchronization of seasonal acclimatization and short-term heat hardening improves physiological resilience in a changing climate

Wood duck

Why don’t birds lay more eggs? The answer may be egg temperature

Sydney F. Hope, Sarah E. DuRant, John J. Hallagan, Michelle L. Beck, Robert A. Kennamer, William A. Hopkins Have you ever wondered why birds lay the number of eggs that they do? Although ecologists have been interested in this question for decades, the answer is still not completely understood. For example, many waterfowl engage in a behavior called ‘egg-dumping’, where females lay eggs in other … Continue reading Why don’t birds lay more eggs? The answer may be egg temperature

Rough skinned newt (Taricha granulosa)

Putative resistance and tolerance mechanisms have little impact on disease progression for an emerging salamander pathogen

Wilber, Mark; Carter, Edward; Gray, Matthew; Briggs, Cheryl Hosts can defend themselves against infection by avoiding contact with a pathogen, resisting infection when contact occurs, or tolerating the pathogen such that infection does not affect host fitness. When a pathogen invades a host population, what defence strategy should hosts employ to limit the negative impact of the pathogen? For example, if a host is exposed … Continue reading Putative resistance and tolerance mechanisms have little impact on disease progression for an emerging salamander pathogen

Male Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)

Proxy problems: Why a calibration is essential when we want to understand energy expenditure

Halsey, Lewis; Bryce, Caleb Animals expend energy for everything they do, from moving around to reproducing to fighting off infections. Yet they have limited energy reserves. Thus how much energy animals expend and under what circumstances is arguably crucial to their lifetime success – how long they survive and how many offspring they sire. Measuring an animal’s rate of energy expenditure, particularly in the wild, … Continue reading Proxy problems: Why a calibration is essential when we want to understand energy expenditure