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Thermal Imaging in Animal Physiology
 

In my lab, we study the Environmental, Evolutionary, and Ecological Physiology of animals. Using a Comparative Physiological approach, we study animals that have naturally evolved physiological defence mechanisms for coping with temperature variation, environmental stress, and extreme environments. We are also particularly interested in understanding how animals utilise temperature to alter their metabolic needs. It is well known that in the cold, metabolic processes slow down which allows hibernating animals to survive long winters without food.

All animals require oxygen to maintain aerobic metabolism and ultimately to survive. Nonetheless, there are many situations such as intertidal zones, ice-covered lakes, high altitude, and underground burrows, where oxygen can be limiting. This is referred to as hypoxia. Animals possess numerous adaptations for coping with these kinds of environmental stresses.

Research Highlights Slide Show

One goal of our research program is to understand how animals control their metabolism and body temperature during times when a high metabolic rate or high body temperature are impossible or inefficient to sustain, such as seen during hypoxia, hypothermia, hibernation, torpor or sleep. For example, when faced with hypoxia, animals actually prefer lower body temperatures and metabolism, implying a neural mechanism to this process. In other words, the brain's thermostat is lowered in hypoxia. Understanding this process will shed light on how animals modify and manipulate body temperature and metabolism and improve our understanding of how the body maintains thermal homeostasis.

Finally, we are interested in the evolution of thermoregulatory responses in animals, with research questions that probe into the origins of homeothermy and the role of thermal heat exchangers in dinosaurs and birds.


Brock University, Department of Biological Sciences
MacKenzie Chown F242, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2S 3A1
Tel: 905-688-5550 x4815
Email: Glenn Tattersall
Updated: April 8, 2013
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