2014 Student Research Conference:
27th Annual Student Research Conference

Underwater Survival in Ticks
Michelle Okpewho* and Anna Sumner
Dr. Laura Fielden and Dr. David Garth, Faculty Mentors

This investigation addresses how ticks survive under conditions of flooding. Ticks can remain totally submerged in water for extended periods (days to weeks) using plastron respiration. In ticks, the plastron is a physical gill that absorbs oxygen from the water via a thin layer of air trapped in the cuticular perforations of the spiracular plate. We hypothesized that the length of survival for a particular species of tick is related to the efficiency of the plastron in extracting oxygen. This study compared 1) underwater survival using survival curve analysis and 2) plastron structure of ticks using light microscopy in combination with digital imaging. Preliminary findings show interspecific differences in survivability and plastron structure. The significance of this work relates to understanding why ticks are able to survive several years under natural conditions.

Keywords: Ticks, Underwater survival, Plastron, Microscopy

Topic(s):Mathematical Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 204-3
Location: MG 1098
Time: 10:10

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