Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New papers out from members of the lab

Congratulations to my labmates Kathleen Foster and Ola Birn-Jeffery for their recent papers!

Jamacian giant anole, Anolis garmani

Kathleen's work is on muscle function across different types of climbing behaviors in green anoles.  Surprisingly, she found that muscles aren't always performing the way we might expect by watching the animals' movements.  Her paper was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B (the same journal that has also published work by Newton and Darwin!) and can be found here.   Her work was also featured in this news article.  Now she will be working on looking at some of these differences in several species and ecomorphs of anoles.

Bibron's gecko, Pachydactylus bibroni

Ola (aka Aleksandra) was invited to give a symposium talk at SICB 2014 Austin, TX.  Symposium speakers are then invited to submit their review papers to Integrative and Comparative Biology, the journal published by SICB.  Ola summarized the literature on animals moving on inclines and declines, and found that animals move more slowly on inclines compared to level substrates, and that movement on declines depends on the size of the animal.  She also discussed how integrative locomotion is and suggested a lot of new areas of research!  She is currently working on examining some of these ideas in bibron's geckos. Her paper can be found here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I just received a UCR Dissertation Year Fellowship!

This fellowship supports finishing graduate students by providing a stipend and covering fees.  I had to compete against other graduate students from all departments across UCR.  I am going to use my fellowship to cover my summer funding so I am thankful to have received this award!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Accuracy paper just came out!

Check out the Journal of the Royal Society Interface for my new paper!

This is work that I completed with three species of centrarchid fishes: bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, and largemouth bass.  These fish capture prey using suction, meaning that their mouths may not even come in contact with prey during a feeding event!  The difficult part about quantifying accuracy with this kind of behavior is that this means that accuracy should not be determined relative to the predator's mouth, but instead, the suction volume.  However, the suction volume is difficult to visualize.  So I modeled this volume as a spheroid (an ellipsoid where two dimensions are equal) and used regression equations to predict the dimensions of the volume based on predator kinematics.  By using this model and 3D predator kinematics, I show that each of the three species differs in the size and shape of the suction volume generated, resulting in differences in predator accuracy when capturing evasive fish prey.  I also showed much higher accuracy in bass than what has been previously described, indicating that my more natural design might allow bass to perform more naturally, since we know they are piscivorous in nature and quite good at capturing other fish.  Finally, I also showed that my estimations of accuracy were able to predict predator capture success, meaning that accuracy is a relevant measure of performance in these fishes.  This model is important for allowing other researchers to more easily use accuracy as a performance measure in other studies, so we can begin to understand predator performance and why some species are better at capturing certain prey types.  We can also start to understand the evolution of these behaviors and how differences among species are important for shaping the diversity that we see.