Thursday, October 19, 2023

Snowfly Adaptation

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Evolutionary Biology, Nature, Wildlife, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

What do you do when you get cold in winter? It is certainly not what snowflies do, which is this subject of a fascinating study available in an accessible paper in Current Biology (26 September 2023), "Snow flies self-amputate freezing limbs to sustain behavior at sub-zero temperatures."  A 12-page PDF is also accessible. This event is very unlikely ever to be seen in the wild so must be studied in the laboratory.

The paper includes a whimsical graphical abstract, highlights and a summary which precede the full body of the paper. 
The paper includes a graphic of a snowfly, photograph showing collection sites, photograph of the mountain site, a schematic of the thermal imaging set-up with important and helpful graphs on temperature related results, a photograph of the leg-snip (auto-amputation), triggers with a comparison of a related species and the snowfly summarized in a chart, and at the end full access to details about the methods. The supplemental information includes acknowlegements and the contributions of the authors.

The paper ends on a disheatening note. a reminder of changes affecting the planet, global warming and habitat destruction. "We may have limited time to study these species before they disappear altogether."

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