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Insect Ecophysiology Laboratory

Research

The main focus of the research is to investigate the breathing patterns and metabolic rates of insects and other invertebrates. Special interest is the ability of insects to hold their breath and use a form of respiration called discontinuous gas exchange. Ticks have been observed to be able to hold their breath for more than 12 hours. The changes in the patterns of respiration under conditions of hypoxia and hyperoxia in social insects are currently being investigated. There are ongoing experiments investigating the pathway of gases within a flightless beetle and the role of the subelytral cavity in respiration.

Equipment

The laboratory has the ability to measure respiratory patterns in insects weighing less than 1 mg to large dung beetles weighing 10 g. Metabolic measurements can be made on a variety of organism ranging from insect eggs (mosquito and locust eggs) to small birds. Running tubes and activity meters enable the measurements of energetic cost of movement.  

People working in the lab

Three honours students who are working on locust respiration and termite biodiversity.

MSc

  • Ms Isabelle Inder - Humidity and temperature effects on respiratory pattern in the harvester termite, Hodotermes mossambicus
  • Ms Sharina Prodorutti - Underwater survival of ticks
  • Mr Simphiwe Simelane - mathematical modelling of respiration (collaboration with the School of Computational and Applied Mathematics)

PhD

  • Ms Maria Kaiser (co-supervisor; supervisor Dr Basil Brooke) - mosquito respiration

 

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