Meeting Abstract

BART.1  Sunday, Jan. 4 19:00  Lessons from the most successful vertebrates: Coping with stress and maintaining performance in a changing world RUMMER, J.L.; James Cook University

The fishes have 400 million years of evolutionary history, comprise over half of all extant vertebrates, and occupy nearly every body of water on the planet spanning an array of environmental conditions. For the teleosts, success is related in part to their unique oxygen transport system, which may be central to maintaining performance during stress or under challenging environmental conditions. Yet, we do not fully understand whether their capacity for acclimation and adaptation will keep pace with the rapid and large-scale changes occurring in their habitats, such as those associated with climate change. My research investigates how fish physiologically and behaviourally respond to and the mechanisms by which they acclimate and adapt to key environmental parameters (e.g., temperature, CO2, reduced ambient oxygen, etc.) associated with yearly cyclic and climate change related stressors. My approach is based in ecological, evolutionary, and conservation physiology, and my experiments are both field- and laboratory-based, e.g. harnessing geographic gradients and local extreme environments as analogues for future change, investigating the extreme performers within aquatic environments, and integrating physiological, biochemical, and molecular techniques to gain insight into the various cellular and whole-organism responses. Currently, on the Great Barrier Reef, I am tracking metabolic and swimming performance of fishes under different conditions, across development and species, and over generations. This information is crucial for making predictions as to which species and/or populations may be most at risk from climate change and whether the fishes’ long evolutionary history will be 'enough' to protect them from future changes in their habitat.

Dr. Jodie Rummer is the recipient of this year's George Bartholomew Award. Dr. Rummer received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of West Florida, and her Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia working with Dr. Colin Brauner on the evolution of oxygen uptake and delivery in fishes. She has held postdoctoral positions at the City University of Hong Kong with David Randal and at James Cook University in Australia where she is currently a Senior Research Fellow/Assistant Professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Dr. Rummer's research now employs an innovative combination of field and laboratory-based studies to examine adaptive traits of coral reef fishes and how they respond to a variety of environmental stressors (e.g., increase temperature and CO2) stemming from climate change.