Biological Sciences Departmental Seminar: "Icy insects: The mechanisms and evolution of being frozen solid"


Location: 283 Galvin Life Science

The Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame is pleased to present a seminar by Brent Sinclair, associate professor of biological & geological sciences at Western University of Ontario.

The seminar, "Icy insects: The mechanisms and evolution of being frozen solid," will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29 in 283 Galvin Life Science.

Research abstract from Prof. Sinclair:

"We are interested in how the insects that surround us in southwestern Ontario survive the winter.  This is of interest not just because we like freezing bugs (who wouldn't!?), but because climate change in southwestern Ontario is predicted to result in an increase in mean annual temperature and a decrease in precipitation.  Although this scenario predicts an increase in the length of the growing season, it also implies reduced snow cover (which reduces insulation) and therefore an increase in freeze-thaw cycles.  In addition, a decrease in winter length or intensity may result in a drastic increase in overwinter survival of pest species, leading to larger spring populations of pest insect species.  Finally, the predicted milder climate may increase the impact of invasive insect species in southwestern Ontario.  So understanding how overwintering conditions affect survival and population processes in the field is an important priority for predicting and managing insect populations during a period of rapid climate change. Our local 'guinea pigs' include the goldenrod gall fly, the banded woolly bear caterpillar, and the acorn weevil Curculio glandium.  In addition, we are exploring the potential impacts of Ontario's changing winter conditions on the spread and performance of invasive insect species like spotted wing Drosophila and the brown marmorated stink bug, as well as the irruptive native Eastern spruce budworm."

"I know they aren't insects, but we've recently been doing more and more on cold toerlance of slugs and snails. In particular, we (by 'we' I mainly mean postdoc Annegret Nicolai and PhD student Qian Long) have been examining cold tolerance of the european snail Cepaea nemoralis, which is invasive in North America, but survives a surprisingly long way north. We also have collaborations looking at overwintering biology of insects in the mountains of New Zealand,  the Sierra Nevada of California and lots of other exciting places, too."


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