Thermal Image Talks

Just returned from an interesting day of thermal imaging on topics ranging from birds to asphalt and with no particular connection other than the technological one.  It was quite an interesting contrast, but the engineers, technicians, electricians, and thermographers seemed reasonably interested in our work.  I am very grateful to the FLIR folk (Paul Frisk and Rob Milner) for inviting us to speak and especially grateful to Joshua Robertson and Erich Eberts, my “extended” family of research student collaborators for talking about our work.

Joshua spoke about his new results on stress physiology and the use of infrared thermal imaging and Erich spoke about his crowd-funded hummingbird research.  They did an excellent job!   Certainly well prepared for any upcoming conferences!

InfraCanada Agenda - Niagara Falls.png

Advertisements

Self-reflection puts fish in hot water

In a narcissistic age, it is not uncommon to think of situations in which spending too long focussed on ourselves can lead to harm.  But what about fish, you might ask?

Today our paper entitled “Social cues can push amphibious fish to their thermal limits” was published in Biology Letters.

This manuscript represents an experimental field study performed in Belize this past spring examining how social information can delay the behavioural thresholds that an amphibious fish exhibits to escape from a thermally stressful environment.  As natural environments are complex systems including abiotic and biotic stressors that may act synergistically, it is important to understand how these interactions operate and impact an animal’s thermal limits.

The mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus), in particular, is an intriguing fish since it routinely leaves the water (emerge) to avoid stressful conditions and in some instances can survive for weeks out of water.  If the water gets too hot or too hypoxic, rivulus will simply jump out and chill out on land.

picture1.png

K. marmoratus contemplating life on land.  Not quite sure yet.  Photo courtesy Keri Martin, Mount Allison University.

img_5007.jpg

K. marmoratus out of water – Image courtesy of Keri Martin, Mount Allison University.

In the present study, we demonstrate that the decision to emerge from water onto land is also socially sensitive.

So, what does this have to do with self-image?  Studying social cues from conspecifics can be a challenge if the conspecifics jump out of water first, so we designed an experiment to provide continuous social cues, using a simple mirror placed underwater.

Tank Schematic.jpg

Supplementary Figure from manuscript

Key Finding: The presence of cues from a conspecific (produced from a mirror) caused the rivulus to delay leaving water until they reach a higher temperature.  This delay is clearly a behavioural decision and not due to enhanced tolerance of warmer temperatures, since their CTmax was not sensitive to the presence of social cuing from the mirror.

This discovery is important since it demonstrates that critical behavioural decisions may affect survival in an animal living in a thermally stressful environment.  Much research into thermal stress to date has focussed on individual responses but social cues are likely just as important to animals in the wild.  We have only addressed what simple visual cues produced by a mirror do to their emersion behaviour.  Extrapolating to how multiple cues will work is, of course, open for future investigation.


 

Full Citation:

Currie, S and Tattersall, GJ. 2018. Social cues can push amphibious fish to their thermal limits.  Biology LettersLink here

 


 

Further Information

K. marmoratus inhabit stress aquatic habitats and can be found often inside crab burrows.

See Dr. Andy Turko’s video from 2012.  It is fascinating to watch:

 

On this year’s trip we took more images attempting to visualise the thermal environments inhabited by the various fish living in the Long Caye.  Here is a thermal image of a crab burrow:

IR_2018-04-23_

Thermal image of a crab burrow (central triangular region) capturing a crab leaving the burrow (bottom centre of image).  Rivulus can be found cohabiting with crabs or each other.  Image taken in April 2018 with a FLIR T1030K thermal imaging camera.

Ever hopeful to observe rivulus emerging spontaneously in the field we set up various camera traps and go pros and time lapse images.

The following video depicts a time lapse video (each frame 10 apart) captured with a simple IR webcam of a outdoor, artificial burrow with water, following 3 rivulus over time.  You can see one emerging in the bottom part of the screen and staying out of water.

 

We want to acknowledge Team Rivulus and Fellow Scientists:

Dr. Patricia Wright, University of Guelph

Dr. Suzie Currie, Acadia University

Dr. Andy Turko, University of Guelph

Dr. Tamzin Blewett, University of Alberta

Dr. Emily Standen

Giulia Rossi, University of Guelph

Louise Tunnah, University of Guelph

Keri Martin, Mount Allison University

Dr. D. Scott Taylor (mangrove.org)

Itza Lodge, Long Caye, Belize

Journal Comparative Physiology Ed Board

EdBoard

What was I thinking!?

Seriously, though, I’ve just been invited by Professor Heldmaier to be a member of the Journal of Comparative Physiology B editorial board.  I am honoured!  More especially as one my earliest memories of an influential paper was Heldmaier and Ruf’s 1992 paper on “Body temperature and metabolic rate during natural hypothermia in endotherms” published in J Comp Physiol B.  Their paper really helped to spark my interest in hibernation and thermoregulation as it so elegantly explained concepts that can trip up any novice student of physiology.  Anyhow, it is an honour to be part of Dr. Heldmaier’s team.

So, now, I put out a call to anyone reading this post to consider submitting their comparative physiology research to J Comp Physiol B for consideration.

 

Symposium in Seville – July 2019

Come join us in Seville next year to present on or listen to a great line up of speakers presenting on heat exchange with the environment.

HeatExchangeSymposium.jpeg

When the call for abstracts come out, please consider submitting a topic that we might be able to feature in the symposium.

And by the end of our session, you should be able to put this type of image into context!

cropped-ir_1311.jpg

Alas, my co-organiser, Dr. Dom McCafferty is 5-6 hours ahead of me and has already posted this!

Unreasonable requests…

A letter I wrote explaining why I declined to review a manuscript for PLOS One:

Dear PLOS One,

I am sorry, but 10 days is an unreasonable turn around time to request a peer reviewer. I prefer to focus my peer review activities toward journals that outwardly promote work-life balance and value the peer reviewers’ busy schedules. I realise PLOS one is a large journal so I would ask that these comments not be taken personally, but perhaps be passed along to someone who might be able to effect change. Let PLOS One set an example by returning to the halcyon days of a 3 week turn around request time for reviews and providing reviewers with compensation for their time! I know that won’t happen, but if reviewers don’t explain their reasons for declining to review, how will journals change their practises. As a fee based journal, this is something that could potentially be structured into the publication costs.

_____

This evoked an immediate and sympathetic response from the editor, and as a result I think it only fair that I agree to review the manuscript now.  I guess I cannot really be unreasonable to the scientific editor or the authors.  Now if we can only convince the journals to stop obsessing over rapid turnaround times, and recognise that volunteers are what keep their machines running.

 

 

Visiting Pymatuning

One of the pleasures of academia is the “seminar invite”.  I just returned from a visit to the University of Pittsburgh Pyamunting Laboratory of Ecology.  Only a 3 hour drive from my house:

img_3346.jpg

Many thanks to Dr. Corinne Zawacki for the invitation and for hosting me and showing me around the field station.  This truly is an impressive place for doing field research.  Hopefully we can collaborate in the future.

Thanks also to my supportive grad students (who put up with disappearances) and the unwitting co-authors (Ray Danner, Jaime Chaves, Danielle Levesque).  I was speaking about our research on Darwin’s finches….

The flight of the carpenter bee

I’ve often thought that I wait too long to post anything about research until it has been completed.  However, in this case I make an exception.  We were able to get our flight mill working today with a male carpenter bee!  Video evidence below:

 

Full credit to the two fantastic high school mentorship students (Hailin Wang and Sam Langdon) who built the flight mill with the assistance of Brock University’s Electronic’s Shop and Machine Shop, and to Miriam Richards, my colleague in all matters related to bees.

Now, we simply have to put the final touches and hopefully Lyndon Duff (Miriam’s PhD student) will be flying bees this summer.

 

Visitor to the lab

The lab has recently had the pleasure of hosting a Post-Doctoral Fellow visitor to the lab (funded by an Aharon Ephraim Katzir Study Grant – Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities).  Dr. Vlad Demartsev, from Tel Aviv University, has been spending the past 4 weeks in the cold of Canada (mostly indoors) learning the ins and outs of infrared thermal imaging, video analysis, and open-source data extraction methods we have been  developing, and will be taking his skills back home where he plans to incorporate this with his research into animal communication (here is a link to his recent paper on male Hyrax singing).

Here he is at the Toronto Zoo doing his best impression of a meerkat (many thanks to the African mammal keepers at the Toronto Zoo for allowing us the chance to visit!).

IMG_3216.JPG

It was a great pleasure to have Vlad visit.  I only wish I had more time to spare to interact with him and his family.  I guess the solution will be to visit him in Israel or South Africa!  Stay tuned to this space…