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K-State Today

November 2, 2023

Alex Gerson to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Alex Gerson, associate professor in the department of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will present "The Ecological Physiology of Lean Mass Dynamics During Flight and Refueling in Migratory Birds" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, in 221 Ackert Hall.

Migratory birds catabolize large quantities of protein during long flights resulting in mass reductions of organs and muscles as great as 40% from pre-flight levels. This represents a rapid change in phenotype from before to after flight, but the adaptive and functional significance of protein catabolism during flight remains unclear. A number of non-mutually exclusive hypotheses have been proposed to explain the role of protein metabolism in flight, which may result in reduced energetic requirements at stopover, aid flight water balance, or may represent an emergent property due to high fat metabolism. However, the consequences of protein catabolism in flight have also not been evaluated, preventing a determination of the adaptive nature of this phenomenon. Gerson will discuss recent advances in this line of investigation, highlighting progress toward understanding fuel use for long duration flight, and the adaptive nature of extreme phenotypic flexibility in migratory birds.

If you would like to visit with Gerson, please contact Kristen Hobbs at kshobbs@k-state.edu