2014 Student Research Conference:
27th Annual Student Research Conference

Plastron Respiration in Ticks
Anna G. Staudacher* and Andrew C. Belzer
Dr. Laura Fielden and Dr. David Garth, Faculty Mentors

Ticks can breathe air underwater by means of a physical gill called a plastron. The spiracular plates of ticks serve as plastrons and trap a thin layer of air by hydrophobic hairs. Interspecific variation in underwater survival may in part be explained by differences in metabolic requirements of ticks while submerged. We hypothesize that ticks with low metabolic demands will have longer survivability when submerged. Our proposed research will 1) continue with interspecific comparisons of submergence survival and 2) investigate metabolic requirements of ticks before, during and after submergence. Metabolic rate will be determined by two methods: a) Dissolved oxygen electrode will be used to determine oxygen uptake in submerged ticks; b) Flow-through respirometry measuring CO2 emission of ticks will be used to estimate metabolic rate before and after removal from the water. The significance of this work relates to understanding the remarkable longevity (years) of ticks under natural conditions.

Keywords: Ticks, Underwater Survival, Plastron, Metabolic Rate

Topic(s):Mathematical Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 103-2
Location: MG 1098
Time: 8:15

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