A new study by biologists at Mercyhurst University focuses on the influence of climate change, particularly warmer winters, on the survival and potential fecundity of cold-blooded animals.
Cold blooded animals, or ectotherms, do not have an internal mechanism for regulating body temperature. Instead, they rely on solar energy captured by the environment.
The purpose of the Mercyhurst study, a collaboration of Michael Elnitsky, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology; and students Drew Spacht and Seth Pezar, is to assess the current and future impacts of climate change on the overwintering energetics and microenvironmental conditions of the goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis). Larvae of the goldenrod gall fly have long served as model organisms for studying the strategies used by freeze-tolerant animals for winter survival.