Thursday, 20 October 2016

How animals sense the rate of temperature change

Date: October 17, 2016
Source: University of California - Santa Barbara

In classic experiments on frogs, scientists found that the amphibians' urge to escape from dangerously hot water decreased significantly when the water temperature rose very gradually.

In fact, sensitivity of many animals to temperature -- including humans -- is similarly affected by the rate of increase. Exactly why, however, has not been understood.

Hoping to shed light on this phenomenon, UC Santa Barbara professor Craig Montell and graduate students Junjie Luo and Wei Shen developed fruit fly larvae as a model to reveal a mechanism through which the animal shows different behavioral responses to fast and slow rises in temperature.

The researchers discovered that a rapid 25-degree Fahrenheit temperature change caused a writhing response in fruit fly larvae. However, when the temperature was raised gradually, far fewer animals reacted, and for those that did, the average threshold temperature was significantly higher. The team's findings appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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