Frank Seebacher

Frank Seebacher
The University of Sydney · School of Biological Sciences

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208
Publications
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Publications

Publications (208)
Article
Movement is essential in the ecology of most animals, and it typically consumes a large proportion of individual energy budgets. Environmental conditions modulate the energetic cost of movement (cost of transport, COT), and there are pronounced differences in COT between individuals within species and across species. Differences in morphology affec...
Article
Anthropogenic activity has created unique environmental drivers, which may interact to produce unexpected effects. My aim was to conduct a systematic review of the interactive effects of anthropogenic drivers on endocrine responses in non-human animals. The interaction between temperature and light can disrupt reproduction and growth by impacting g...
Article
Phenotypic plasticity of physiological functions enables rapid responses to changing environments and may thereby increase the resilience of organisms to environmental change. Here, we argue that the principal hallmarks of life itself, self-replication and maintenance, are contingent on the plasticity of metabolic processes (‘metabolic plasticity’)...
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Bisphenols are used in the manufacture of plastics and are endocrine disrupting compounds detectable in free living organisms and environments globally. The original bisphenol, bisphenol A (BPA), is best known as a xenoestrogen, but it also disrupts other steroid hormones and other classes of hormones including thyroid and pituitary hormones. When...
Article
Potentially negative effects of thermal variation on physiological functions may be modulated by compensatory responses, but their efficacy depends on the timescale of phenotypic adjustment relative to the rate of temperature change. Increasing temperatures in particular can affect mitochondrial bioenergetics and rates of reactive oxygen species (R...
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Physiology can underlie movement, including short-term activity, exploration of unfamiliar environments, and larger scale dispersal, and thereby influence species distributions in an environmentally sensitive manner. We conducted meta-analyses of the literature to establish, firstly, whether physiological traits underlie activity, exploration, and...
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Energetic cost of growth determines how much food-derived energy is needed to produce a given amount of new biomass and thereby influences energy transduction between trophic levels. Growth and development are regulated by hormones and are therefore sensitive to changes in temperature and environmental endocrine disruption. Here, we show that the e...
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This review serves as an introduction to a special issue of Frontiers in Physiology, focused on the importance of physiological performance curves across phylogenetic and functional boundaries. Biologists have used performance curves to describe the effects of changing environmental conditions on animal physiology since the late 1800s (at least). A...
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The capacity to compensate for environmental change determines population persistence and biogeography. In ectothermic organisms, performance at different temperatures can be strongly affected by temperatures experienced during early development. Such developmental plasticity is mediated through epigenetic mechanisms that induce phenotypic changes...
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Many ectothermic animals can respond to changes in their environment by altering the sensitivities of physiological rates, given sufficient time to do so. In other words, thermal acclimation and developmental plasticity can shift thermal performance curves so that performance may be completely or partially buffered against the effects of environmen...
Preprint
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To overcome the cost of competition resulting from close social proximity while foraging in a group, individuals may balance their use of private (i.e. acquired from personal sampling) and social (i.e. acquired by watching other individuals) information in order to adjust their foraging strategy accordingly. Reliability of private information about...
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Food availability and temperature influence energetics of animals and can alter behavioral responses such as foraging and spontaneous activity. Food availability, however, is not necessarily a good indicator of energy (ATP) available for cellular processes. The efficiency of energy transduction from food-derived substrate to ATP in mitochondria can...
Article
• The health of running freshwater systems depends to a large extent on flow rates, which can co‐vary with other environmental variables such as temperature. Water flow and temperature can influence oxidative status of individual animals, thereby impacting muscle function and locomotion. Consequently, ecologically important behaviours such as dispe...
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Competition for resources shapes ecological and evolutionary relationships. Physiological capacities such as in locomotor performance can influence the fitness of individuals by increasing competitive success. Social hierarchy too can affect outcomes of competition by altering locomotor behaviour or because higher ranking individuals monopolize res...
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Environmental change and biodiversity loss are but two of the complex challenges facing conservation practitioners and policy makers. Relevant and robust scientific knowledge is critical for providing decision-makers with the actionable evidence needed to inform conservation decisions. In the Anthropocene, science that leads to meaningful improveme...
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1. Climate affects all aspects of biology. Physiological traits play a key role in mediating these effects, because they define the fundamental niche of each organism. 2. Climate change is likely to shift environmental conditions away from physiological optima. The consequences for species are significant: they must alter their physiology through p...
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Background Thermal plasticity is pivotal for evolution in changing climates and in mediating resilience to its potentially negative effects. The efficacy to respond to environmental change depends on underlying mechanisms. DNA methylation induced by DNA methyltransferase 3 enzymes in the germline or during early embryonic development may be correla...
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Plastic pollutants are novel environmental stressors that are now persistent components of natural ecosystems. Endocrine disrupting chemicals such as bisphenols that leach out of plastics can modify physiological responses of animals by interfering with hormone signalling. Here, we tested whether three commonly produced bisphenols, bisphenol A (BPA...
Article
Biologists have long appreciated the critical role energy turnover plays in understanding variation in performance and fitness among individuals. Whole-organism metabolic studies have provided key insights into fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes. However, constraints operating at subcellular levels—such as those operating within the...
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Aim: The present study aimed to simultaneously examine the age-related, muscle-specific, sex-specific and contractile-mode-specific changes in isolated mouse skeletal muscle function and morphology across multiple ages. Methods: Measurements of mammalian muscle morphology, isometric force and stress (force/cross-sectional area), absolute and nor...
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In honeybees there are three alleles of cytosolic malate dehydrogenase: F, M and S. Allele frequencies are correlated with environmental temperature, suggesting that the alleles have temperature-dependent fitness benefits. We determined the enzymic activity of each allele across a range of temperatures in vitro The F and S alleles have higher activ...
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Animals integrate information from different environmental cues to maintain performance across environmental gradients. Increasing average temperature and variability induced by climate change can lead to mismatches between seasonal cues. We used mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) to test the hypotheses that mismatches between seasonal temperature a...
Article
Environmental signals act primarily on physiological systems, which then influence higher-level functions such as movement patterns and population dynamics. Increases in average temperature and temperature variability associated with global climate change are likely to have strong effects on fish physiology and thereby on populations and fisheries....
Article
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Plastic pollution is a global environmental concern. In particular, the endocrine‐disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is nearly ubiquitous in aquatic environments globally, and it continues to be produced and released into the environment in large quantities. BPA disrupts hormone signalling and can thereby have far‐reaching physiological and ecol...
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Applying physiological tools, knowledge and concepts to understand conservation problems (i.e. conservation physiology) has become commonplace and confers an ability to understand mechanistic processes, develop predictive models and identify cause-and-effect relationships. Conservation physiology is making contributions to conservation solutions; t...
Article
Evolutionary theory predicts that the capacity to acclimate should be favoured in variable environments. However, perfect compensation for thermal variation is rare and the capacity for thermal acclimation can vary considerably between individuals within natural populations. This variation may be explained by costs associated with acclimation, but...
Article
Endothermy changes the relationship between organisms and their environment fundamentally, and it is therefore of major ecological and evolutionary significance. Endothermy is characterized by non-shivering thermogenesis, that is metabolic heat production in the absence of muscular activity. In many eutherian mammals, brown adipose tissue (BAT) is...
Article
Endothermy alters the energetic relationships between organisms and their environment and thereby influences fundamental niches. Endothermy is closely tied to energy metabolism. Regulation of energy balance is indispensable for all life and regulatory pathways increase in complexity from bacteria to vertebrates. Increasing complexity of metabolic n...
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Anthropogenic climate change induces unprecedented variability in a broad range of environmental parameters. These changes will impact material properties and animal biomechanics, thereby affecting animal performance and persistence of populations. Climate change implies warming at the global level, and it may be accompanied by altered wind speeds,...
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Obesity has a negative effect on muscle contractile function, and the effects of obesity are not reversed by weight loss. It is therefore important to determine how muscle function can be restored, and exercise is the most promising approach. We tested the hypothesis (in zebrafish, Danio rerio) that moderate aerobic exercise (forced swimming for 30...
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Concurrent increases in wave action and sea surface temperatures increase the physical impact on intertidal organisms and affect their physiological capacity to respond to that impact. Our aim was to determine whether wave exposure altered muscle function in intertidal snails (Nerita atramentosa) and whether responses to wave action and temperature...
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Regulatory mechanisms underlying thermal plasticity determine its evolution and potential to confer resilience to climate change. Here we show that class I and II histone deacetylases (HDAC) mediated thermal plasticity globally by shifting metabolomic profiles of cold acclimated zebrafish (Danio rerio) away from warm acclimated animals. HDAC activi...
Article
Many animals occur in groups, and the ecology and evolution of populations and species are intrinsically linked to group function and social behaviour. Here we summarise recent data showing that the biotic and abiotic environments can have far-reaching consequences for social behaviour via epigenetic mechanisms that modify physiological processes....
Article
1 Growth rates directly influence individual fitness and constrain the flow of energy within food webs. Determining what factors alter the energetic cost of growth is therefore fundamental to ecological and evolutionary models. 2. Here we used theory to derive predictions about how the cost of growth varies over ontogeny and with temperature. We te...
Article
The energy used to move a given distance (cost of transport; CoT) varies significantly between individuals of the same species. A lower CoT allows animals to allocate more of their energy budget to growth and reproduction. A higher CoT may cause animals to adjust their movement across different environmental gradients to reduce energy allocated to...
Article
Sprint performance is important ecologically and physiologically, and it can influence fitness by determining outcomes of predator-prey relationships, for example, and it can confer substantial human health benefits. In this article we test whether zebrafish (Danio rerio) are a suitable model to test hypotheses about the effects and consequences of...
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Obesity can cause a decline in contractile function of skeletal muscle, thereby reducing mobility and promoting obesity-associated health risks. We reviewed the literature to establish the current state-of-knowledge of how obesity affects skeletal muscle contraction and relaxation. At a cellular level, the dominant effects of obesity are disrupted...
Article
An animal's position within a group affects feeding - front positions generally offer richer pickings. However, a new study shows that position can be influenced by feeding because big meals reduce scope for locomotion.
Article
Evolutionary theory predicts that intergenerational environmental fluctuations lead to transgenerational effects where offspring phenotypes are matched to conditions experienced by previous generations. However, in fluctuating environments, transgenerational effects can be detrimental by causing mismatches between ancestral and offspring environmen...
Article
The question of who leads and who follows is crucial to our understanding of the collective movements of group-living animals. Various characteristics associated with leadership have been documented across a range of social taxa, including hunger, motivation, dominance and personality. Comparatively little is known about the physiological mechanism...
Article
Maximal locomotor performance is often used as a proxy for fitness. Maximal speed may be important under high-threat conditions, such as during predator escape. However, animals do not always move at a speed that reflects their maximal physiological capacities when undisturbed. The physiological factors that determine the movement speed chosen by a...
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The Commentary by Pörtner, Bock and Mark (Pörtner et al., 2017) elaborates on the oxygen- and capacity-limited thermal tolerance (OCLTT) hypothesis. Journal of Experimental Biology Commentaries allow for personal and controversial views, yet the journal also mandates that ‘opinion and fact must be clearly distinguishable’ (http://jeb.biologists.org...
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Developmental plasticity can match offspring phenotypes to environmental conditions experienced by parents. Such epigenetic modifications are advantageous when parental conditions anticipate offspring environments. Here we show firstly, that developmental plasticity manifests differently in males and females. Secondly, that under stable conditions,...
Article
Energy metabolism is determined by a suite of regulatory mechanism, and their increasing complexity over evolutionary time provides the key to understanding the emergence of different metabolic phenotypes. Energy metabolism is at the core of biological processes because all organisms must maintain energy balance against thermodynamic gradients. Ene...
Article
Many species of animal live in groups, and the group represents the organizational level within which ecological and evolutionary processes occur. Understanding these processes, therefore, relies on knowledge of the mechanisms that permit or constrain group formation. We suggest that physiological capacities and differences in physiology between in...
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The costs and benefits of group living often depend on the spatial position of individuals within groups and the ability of individuals to occupy preferred positions. For example, models of predation events for moving prey groups predict higher mortality risk for individuals at the periphery and front of groups. We investigated these predictions in...
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Decreased skeletal muscle performance with increasing age is strongly associated with reduced mobility and quality of life. Increased physical activity is a widely prescribed method of reducing the detrimental effects of ageing on skeletal muscle contractility. The present study uses isometric and work loop testing protocols to uniquely investigate...
Article
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Endotherms regulate their core body temperature by adjusting metabolic heat production and insulation. Endothermic body temperatures are therefore relatively stable compared to external temperatures. The thermal sensitivity of biochemical reaction rates is thought to have co-evolved with body temperature regulation so that optimal reaction rates oc...
Article
Aerobic exercise has a positive impact on animals by enhancing skeletal muscle function and locomotor performance. Responses of skeletal muscle to exercise involve changes in energy metabolism, calcium handling, and the composition of contractile protein isoforms, which together influence contractile properties. Histone deacetylases (HDAC) can caus...
Article
Background/objectives: Obesity can affect muscle phenotypes, and may thereby constrain movement and energy expenditure. Weight loss is a common and intuitive intervention for obesity, but it is not known whether the effects of obesity on muscle function are reversible by weight loss. Here we tested whether obesity-induced changes in muscle metabol...
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Ultraviolet B radiation (UV-B) is an important environmental driver that can affect locomotor performance negatively by inducing production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Prolonged regular exercise increases antioxidant activities, which may alleviate the negative effects of UV-B-induced ROS. Animals naturally performing exercise, such as humans...
Article
Central pathways regulate metabolic responses to cold in endotherms to maintain relatively stable internal core body temperatures. However, peripheral muscles routinely experience temperatures lower than core body temperature, so that it would be advantageous for peripheral tissues to respond to temperature changes independently from core body temp...
Article
The environment experienced by parents can alter offspring phenotypes. Such developmental plasticity is beneficial when it optimises offspring responses to their prevailing environment. Plasticity may be detrimental, however, if there is a mismatch between parental and offspring environments, although reversible acclimation within individuals could...
Article
New & noteworthy: The effect of obesity on isolated muscle function is surprisingly underresearched. The present study is the first to examine the effects of obesity on isolated muscle performance using a method that more closely represents real-world muscle function. This work uniquely establishes a muscle-specific profile of mechanical changes i...
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Energy-based trade-offs occur when investment in one fitness-related trait diverts energy away from other traits. The extent to which such trade-offs are shaped by limits on the rate of conversion of energy ingested in food (e.g. carbohydrates) into chemical energy (ATP) by oxidative metabolism rather than by the amount of food ingested in the firs...
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Amphibians have declined dramatically worldwide. Many of these declines are occurring in areas where no obvious anthropogenic stressors are present. It is proposed that in these areas, environmental factors such as elevated solar ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation could be responsible. Ultraviolet-B levels have increased in many parts of the world as a...
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Temperature and ultraviolet B (UV-B) interact in causing cellular damage and impairing locomotor performance. Here, we test the hypothesis that movement and thermal selection of zebrafish (Danio rerio) change in the presence of UV-B, and in particular, that fish which were chronically exposed to UV-B avoid high and low temperature extremes to maxim...
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Thyroid hormone is a key regulator of metabolism, and in zebrafish hypothyroidism decreases sustained and burst swimming performance. These effects are accompanied by decreases in both metabolic scope and the activity of sarco-endoplasmic reticulum ATPase (SERCA) in zebrafish. Our aim was to determine whether thyroid hormone affects skeletal muscle...
Article
1. Predation risk affects interspecific competition by decreasing foraging activity and relative competitive ability. Predation risk is determined by predators' prey choice and prey responses, both of which can be influenced by temperature. Temperature is especially important for larval prey and can result in a trade‐off between predator‐induced de...
Article
Locomotor performance is closely related to fitness. However, in many ecological contexts, animals do not move at their maximal locomotor capacity, but adopt a voluntary speed that is lower than maximal. It is important to understand the mechanisms that underlie voluntary speed, because these determine movement patterns of animals across natural en...
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Local specialization can be advantageous for individuals and may increase the resilience of the species to environmental change. However, there may be trade-offs between morphological responses and physiological performance and behaviour. Our aim was to test whether habitat-specific morphology of stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) interacts with...
Article
The production of toxic secondary metabolites by marine phytoplankton and their accumulation in molluscs and fish has ecosystem-wide and human health impacts. The potent neurotoxin saxitoxin and its analogs, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, are produced by species of the dinoflagellate genus Alexandrium. These toxins can accumulate in...
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A key challenge for ecologists is to quantify, explain and predict the ecology and behaviour of animals from knowledge of their basic physiology. Compared to our knowledge of many other types of distribution and behaviour, and how these are linked to individual function, we have a poor level of understanding of the causal basis for orientation beha...
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Ultraviolet B radiation (UV-B) can reduce swimming performance by increasing reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation. High concentrations of ROS can damage mitochondria resulting in reduced ATP production. ROS can also damage muscle proteins thereby leading to impaired muscle contractile function. We have shown previously that UV-B exposure reduces...
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A fundamental problem in ecology is to link spatial arrangements of key biota and the scale at which organisms interact with each other to structure communities and influence ecosystem functioning. Limpets are widely acknowledged to play an important role in the ecology of intertidal rocky shores and exert the strongest grazing effect of any marine...
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Locomotion facilitates behaviour and its underlying physiological mechanisms may therefore impact behavioural phenotypes. Metabolism is often thought to modulate locomotion and behaviour, but empirical support for this suggestion is equivocal. Muscle contractile function is directly associated with locomotion. Here, we test the hypotheses that musc...
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Males of many species use signals during aggressive contests to communicate their fighting capacity. These signals are usually reliable indicators of an individual's underlying quality, however, in several crustacean species, displays of weapons do not always accurately reflect the attribute being advertised. Male fiddler crabs possess one enlarged...