Research events

Upcoming research related events at the School of Biology.

29 Jun 2017 Gigantothermy in whale sharks behavioural strategies to maintain constant body temperatures while accessing prey in the deep, cool waters of the tropical ocean

Mark Meekan (Australian Institute of Marine Scince)

LTD, Bute: 1:00 PM, 29 Jun 2017

Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are a warm-adapted species that feeds on dense aggregations of prey in the deep scattering layer (300-500 m depths) during the day. Feeding using the gill in this deep, cold water has the potential to cool the body of a whale shark very quickly. We developed a model of heat loss and gain across the gill as a means of understanding and predicting patterns of vertical movement in this species. Using data from a recovered Splash tag, we show how whale sharks maintain stable and high (23-25oC) body temperatures, despite the need to feed in deep water, through a range of behaviours that include basking both before and after diving. This heat is stored by a body plan adapted for gigantothermy. The strategy invoked by whale sharks provides insights into the evolution of filter-feeding in large marine vertebrates over the last 150 million years.

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