Anusha Shankar - Hot and cold hummingbirds: The ecology, physiology, and genes of cold endotherms

Date
Tue December 6th 2022, 4:00 - 5:00pm
Location
Clark Center

Anusha Shankar,
Cornell University

Hot and cold hummingbirds: The ecology, physiology, and genes of cold endotherms

Host: Craig Heller

 

💡 Anusha Shankar studies hummingbirds as a Rose Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Lab of
Ornithology. She is fascinated by the idea that many endotherms are in fact heterotherms that can
allow their body temperature to drop and save energy. For the past decade, she has studied
hummingbirds’ various daily energy management strategies. She is now focusing on their ability to
use a hibernation-like state called torpor to save energy at night. She has investigated the ecology
and physiology of this ability and is currently delving into the genetic pathways involved and
exploring how mitochondrial densities might change with hummingbird torpor. How can they get
cold (10°C /50°F) and rewarm safely every night, without damaging organs like their hearts and
brains? Moving forward, she would like to study comparative avian heterothermy on a global scale,
starting by collecting data from the tropics while training biologists from the tropics. She plans to
continue to integrate ecology, physiology, evolutionary perspectives, and molecular and imaging
techniques to understand how heterothermic animals exist. Anusha is a National Geographic
Explorer and Young Leader and a 2022 Leading Edge Fellow.