bird

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I LOVE THIS MEETING! DAY 3 included several very interesting comparative physiology sessions. Eldon Braun (University of Arizona) spoke about how birds have a unique way to prevent water loss and thereby dehydration. In mammals, the kidneys are responsible for recovering water from the urine. However when birds are well-hydrated, the urine enters the colon…

Birds seeking safety of alligators

I came across this neat video summarizing a study that found some birds build nests near alligators to protect themselves from other predators. But the protection is not without a price.

Why so many of us sleep

A special thank you to reader Dr. Barbara Goodman, Professor of Physiology at Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota who sent me a story from The Scientist about sleep in animals complete with footage of a dolphin that was seen apparently “sleeping” (video posted on YouTube): Why do animals sleep? This is a question with many…

A new study conducted by researchers Eric Vaillancourt and Jean-Michel Weber at the University of Ottawa examined blood sugar regulation in a bird that specialize in long distance migration, the Canada goose (Branta canadensis, image above). As referenced in the study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Canadian geese migrate approximately 7,000…

Creating Healthier Turkeys

Did you know that the typical Thanksgiving day broad-breasted white turkey develops in as little as 136 days (on average)? This remarkably quick development is a result of years of selective breeding. The average turkey in 1929 was only about 13 pounds, whereas modern turkeys average around 30 pounds with much of the weight centered in…

Tuesday was no less exciting than Monday! Here are some highlights: I thoroughly enjoyed a session called “Overcoming a Major Physiological Barrier: Adaptation from Saline to Freshwater Habitats” which highlighted the need for several species to shift how they regulate ion balance when they migrate between fresh water (ion absorption from the water) and salt…

I am really excited about the comparative physiology conference that starts this weekend in San Diego! Here is a press release about the meeting (author Stacy Brooks from the American Physiological Society): Bethesda, Md. (September 25, 2014) — More than 400 comparative and evolutionary physiologists will gather to present new research and discoveries in animal physiology at…

City life makes bigger spiders

A new study from researchers at the University of Sydney shows that golden orb-weaving spiders (Nephila plumipes) that live in the city are larger and produce more offspring as compared to country living. When they say the spiders are big, they mean really big. The females can reach up to 20-25mm (males are only ~5mm).…

Brandy Velten (doctoral student) and Dr. Kenneth Welch (Comparative Physiologist) from the University of Toronto wanted to know whether birds with very different speeds at which they flaps their wings (i.e. wingbeat frequencies) had correspondingly varying types of myosin proteins in their muscles. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Physiology last month.…

Here is a neat video that I watched at the David Bruce Undergraduate Poster session at the Experimental Biology conference last week. It describes the amazing physiology of the avian lung and was created by an undergraduate student researcher, Peter Luu for the Physiology Video Contest sponsored by the American Physiological Society. This video won…