Current projects: 

Send me ideas or critiques about these projects!

Flow through abalone shell

1. Abalone respiration, and response to climate change

Respiration rate is basic – it tells you the metabolic rate of an animal. Abalone use the flow of water to respire – water flowing over the shell pulls water out of the shell holes (ostia) and thus under the shell and through the gill chamber. But the only respiration chambers available have still or slowly mixed water. We have shown that respiration is much faster under flowing water. So every paper reporting respiration rates of abalone is wrong! With a new design, purpose built by engineering students this year, we can now investigate how abalone metabolism is affected by higher flow rates in aquaculture tanks, higher temperatures, lower pH, and also how growth and immune status of the abalone affects these responses.

2. Does domestication modify the physiological and behavioural responses of farmed Australian abalone?

Cows are very different from the fierce Aurochs in Europe that they have evolved from! During the domestication process, abalone behavioural and physiological traits may evolve to become more adapted to their captive environment (Price 1999). These modifications can result from intentional selection of production traits, or unconscious and unintentional selection due to conditions experienced in the farm environment. A shift is often observed from resource conservation, foraging and predator avoidance functions (Thorpe 2004) toward resource allocation to growth and reproduction. Compared to terrestrial farmed animals, domestication of abalone is recent and most of its consequences are unknown, especially on behaviour and physiology. This project will consist in studying the effect of domestication on the response to heat stress and handling stress. The behaviour and physiology of wild and farmed abalone selected on weight and resistance to heat stress will be compared using a multicriteria approach such as ethology, physiology including respiration ant metabolomics, and growth parameters.