2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Interdisciplinary

Mathematical Modeling of Plastron Respiration in Ticks
Bach Q. Ha* and Matt Heimann
Dr. Laura Fielden and Dr. Phil Ryan, Faculty Mentors

Ticks are blood-feeding arthropods that are well known for their survivability since they can survive extended periods of submergence under water. A plastron is the mechanism that affords some few animals the opportunity to survive underwater conditions. A previous study has confirmed the existence of a plastron in the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis). The complex spiracular plates of the ticks serve as the air/water interface. As a result, the tick is able to utilize plastron respiration from the dissolved oxygen in the water. We have completed a mathematical model, our primary goal of the project, to represent the efficiency of the dog tick’s plastron. This model will allow us to predict the survivability of submerged ticks under water. We then determined a suite of physical and biological parameters including the volume of the airspace within the spiracular plate, the gas exchange surface area of the spiracular plate and the under water oxygen consumption rate of the ticks. This study can be then applied to other species and genus of ticks.

Keywords: Plastron, Respiration, Modeling, Mathematics, Biology, Survivability, Ticks

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 4-3
Location: OP Lobby
Time: 4:15 pm

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