The Comparative Physiology Laboratory is focused on researching how animals respond physiologically and behaviorally to hypoxia and elevated pressures. Hence, most of our animal models area marine mammals. We strive to integrate data collected from different levels of biological organization to better understand the organismal response to environmental challenges. For this purpose, we use a combination of theoretical, laboratory, and field studies to test hypotheses: what could be called “modern physiology” where tools of other disciplines, such as biochemistry, molecular biology, remote logging techniques and mathematics are applied to complement physiological data.
The comparative approach is particularly powerful when studying how physiological adaptations contribute to biological “fitness” enabling animals to inhabit a wide range of habitats. Our current research uses both mathematical models and experiments to investigate metabolic constraints and the dive response in marine mammals. These include lung collapse depths, lung mechanics and function, the accumulation of nitrogen, bubble formation, immune response to the presence and formation of bubbles in the blood, oxygen availability and depletion during diving, and metabolic costs of diving to depth.
Some of these studies require the translocation of human medicine methods to marine mammals. In return, the results of our studies might have implications in human medicine.
We are always looking for hard working volunteers and students from high school up to help with current studies. Contact us to see what projects need help!
PHOTOGRAPHY RECOGNITION: Texas University, Scotland CRUU, Crozet Island/Sabastian Durand, Pupukea Marine Life Conservation district, Varis and Sandi Grundmanis, cascadiaresearch.org