2015 Student Research Conference:
28th Annual Student Research Conference

Underwater Interspecies Survival of Ticks
Anna G. Staudacher* and Anderw Belzer
Dr. Laura Fielden and Dr. David Garth, Faculty Mentors

Some arthropods can breathe air under water by means of a plastron. A plastron is a physical gill consisting of a thin layer of air trapped by hydrophobic hairs, and in ticks the spiracular plates serve as plastrons. Oxygen extracted from the water, via the plastron, is sufficient to keep the tick alive for long periods of time, with considerable interspecific variation in underwater survival. We hypothesize that ticks with low metabolic demands will have longer survivability when submerged. Our research focused on 1) interspecific comparisons of submergence survival using survival curve analysis and 2) investigated metabolic requirements of ticks before, during, and after submergence. Metabolic rate was determined by two methods: a) Dissolved oxygen electrode was used to determine oxygen uptake in individual ticks whilst in the water; b) Flow-through respirometry measuring CO2 emission of ticks was 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, plastron, spiracular plate, underwater survival, metabolic rate

Topic(s):Mathematical Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 112-4
Location: MG 1096
Time: 8:45

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