areas of study

Our lab adopts a comparative and integrative approach to the study of exercise, metabolism and muscle function. Much of our work focuses on animals with unique or extreme metabolic and locomotor capabilities. Examination of these organisms, informed by ecological and evolutionary context, has the power to reveal what features of design and physiology enable their extreme energetic and physical performance as well as what the limits are to such performance.

Studies undertaken by our lab include:

1. The relationship between dietary ecology, fuel use, and muscle metabolism in vertebrates

a. hummingbirds
b. bats

2. The effects of fuel type on metabolic rate and oxygen consumption

3. The evolution of nectar preference in vertebrate pollinators

4. Contractile dynamics, neuromuscular control, and power output in superfast vertebrate locomotor muscles


Hummingbirds of strikingly different mass hover at a feeder at a field site in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Note the very different wingbeat frequencies. Part of our research is aimed at understanding how the aerobic and burst performance of animals varies depending on how big they are, how fast they beat their wings, and other factors, such as elevation. media © Kenneth Welch

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