|Insect Low Temperature Biology
The Sinclair Lab at UWO
Born and raised in southern Ontario, I have returned after completing my B.Sc. in zoology at the University of Calgary in April 2010. During my time there I completed my undergraduate thesis entitled: “Characterization of embryonic rotational behavior reveals neuronal responses to hypoxia in the pond snail Helisoma trivolvis” under the guidance of Dr. Jeff Goldberg where I used a novel behavioural approach to study the neurobiology of freshwater invertebrates.
I started my MSc in the Sinclair lab in January 2011, and I will be looking at the overwintering strategy in the willow leaf beetle (Chrysomela aeneicollis) which is native to many parts in the western US and Canada. This project will be done in collaboration with Dr. Nathan Rank (Sonoma State University), and Dr. Elizabeth Dahlhoff (Santa Clara University) who have studied this beetle extensively for its summer thermal tolerance, fecundity and genetic differences underlying both of them. Though much is known about these beetles in summer, very little is known about the physiology underlying how they are able to survive the winter as adults. I will begin by measuring the beetles’ metabolic rates at different temperatures, and I will continue on to look at many other aspects of their physiology of cold tolerance. This will include: freeze tolerance and determining the super-cooling point, determining their lower lethal temperature and osmometry to determine the presence (or absence) of antifreeze proteins or other cryoprotectant molecules. Once this is completed, I intend to work in some hypotheses as to how the survival of these beetles will be affected by changes in the local climate; specifically the amount of lasting snow cover during the winter months.