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"Overwintering in the Arctic: Animal Strategies for Surviving the Long, Cold, and Dark"

THM 116
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Dr. Brian Barnes | Faculty Host: Dr. Devraj Singh

SelfieDr. Brian Barnes

Dr. Barnes is currently a Professor of Zoophysiology with the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. He's also the Director of Alaska INBRE, an NIH capacity building program in biomedical research and also the Science co-Director at Toolik Field Station. He participated in summer workshops involving biological rhythms at Hopkins Marine Station. He has a  PhD in Zoology from the University of Washington where Jim Kenagy was his advisor. Dr. Barnes received his Post-doc in Psychology and Zoology with Irv Zucker and Paul Licht as advisors. He began as Assistant Professor at the University of Alaska in 1986.

In Alaska, winters begin early, last seemingly forever, are very cold, snowy and dark, as well as extremely beautiful, quiet, and serene. This talk will review the physiological and behavioral strategies available to animals for surviving and coping with arctic winters, including cryobiology in insects, freeze tolerance in frogs, and hibernation in ground squirrels and bears. Using data logging and advanced telemetry, the locations, behavior, sleep, circadian rhythms, cardiovascular patterns, and thermoregulation of animals were recorded as they overwinter under natural conditions.

Cucujus beetle larvae may not freeze at temperatures below -80C, wood frogs freeze almost solid and survive; arctic ground squirrels lose track of time, become torpid while colder than ice but warm to sleep, even as black bears continuously doze, only occasionally snore, and their hearts beat in a syncopated rhythm. Little is known about the genetic and molecular basis of hibernation, but discovering its mechanisms could lead to novel clinical therapies and escape strategies in humans.

Watch the seminar here!

Barnes_Flyer.pdf (857.18 KB)