[19]: Development of apneustic breathing in northern elephant seal pups (Mirounga angustirostris)

Liv Springer★§, Elise Fiskum†§, Linnea Pearson§, Heather Liwanag§

Department of Biological Sciences, Frost Support, §Santa Rosa Creek Foundation Support, Speaker

The ability to perform prolonged apnea (breath hold) is key adaptation in diving mammals. Pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, walruses) are known to practice apnea on land and while diving. It is generally thought that the ability to extend breath hold duration tends to increase with ontogeny in seals (Mirounga angustirostris), a deep-diving species, throughout pups' approximately 4-week nursing period and after weaning. We hypothesized that age would influence the development of apneustic breathing, and we predicted that older pups would exhibit apnea more frequently and for longer durations, particularly after weaning. To test this, we characterized respiratory patterns of known-age nirthern elephant seal pups using video footage of known-age pups resting on the beach, every 1-2 weeks from 1 day through ~6 weeks of age. Eupneic (i.e., normal) respiration rate (breaths/min), presence/absence of apneustic breathing, and apneustic interval (length of breath hold) were quantified for each recording. Unexpectedly, we found that many pups preformed apnea almost immediately after birth, and that apneustic interval was not significantly positively correlated with age. These results contrast with previously described trends in this and other seal species, which exhibit a gradual maturation of apneustic capacity and ability over time. This implies that northern elephant seal pups may have accelerated apneustic development to support their transition to independent foraging. Additional research is needed to determine whether this pattern is true for other populations of northern elephant seals or for other deep-diving seal species.

[20]: How does a lobster trap modification for sea otter exclusion affect the catch of California spiny lobsters?

Maria Lopez Neri1★§, Mike Harris2, Heather E.M. Liwanag1, Lisa Needles1

1 Department of Biological Sciences, 2 CDFW, §Santa Rosa Creek Foundation Support, Speaker

Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) have been known to become incidentally trapped in shellfish and finfish traps, posing a significant threat to their conservation. Modification to the fyke opening (entrance of lobster traps), in the form of a 5-inch rigid ring, can prevent most southern sea otters from entering. The California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) fishery overlaps with the range of the southern sea otter, posing the risk of bycatch of otters in lobster traps. A reduction in size of the lobster trap fyke ring from its current 6-to-7-inch diameter mesh to a 5-inch diameter rigid metal ring would be a simple solution to mitigate southern sea otter bycatch. However, there is no information on whether this 5-inch rigid ring would affect the number of spiny lobsters caught, their size, and/or their weight. To investigate this, we will use a paired design to fish lobster traps with standard flexible 6-to-7-inch fykes (n=15) and modified 5-inch rigid ring fykes (n=15) off the Santa Barbara coast within a marine protected area. Catch data will be analyzed using a paired t-test to compare the catch per unit effort, size, and weight of spiny lobsters captured. Based on a pilot study, we hypothesize the modified traps will not cause a significant difference in these metrics compared to the standard traps. This modification may be a simple yet effective mitigation to potentially aid in the recovery and population expansion of the southern sea otter.

[21]: Using Confiscated Rattlesnakes to Study Extreme Starvation

Brandon Kong, Emily Taylor

Department of Biological Sciences, Speaker

The ability of some snake species to withstand years without feeding have made them particularly interesting subjects in the study of fasting and starvation. However, due to ethical constraints on experimentation, the upper bounds of their capacity for starvation are not well explored. In this study, we utilized 40 Western Rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus) confiscated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to produce a novel dataset that allowed us to investigate the effects of extreme starvation. The snakes were confiscated from a collector who had hoarded them in poor conditions (likely for several years). The specimens ranged from normal body condition to severely starved. We dissected the snakes to harvest organs and measured their wet mass and dry mass to assess starvation effects on organ size and tissue water content. We found that the mass of most, but not all, organs decrease with starvation. Additionally, we show that the tissue water content of organs generally increases with degree of starvation. We also present preliminary data resulting from the first tests of the material properties of snake bones and how they may be affected by starvation.

[22]: Skeletal articulation of a young northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris)

Simone Goetsch†★, Heather Liwanag, John Perrine

Department of Biological Sciences, Frost Support, Speaker

Skeletal displays are used for educational purposes in museums and at universities, to elucidate the underlying anatomy of vertebrate animals. There are different methods for preparing a skeleton for articulation, and I have been preparing the full skeleton of a young northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) pup using a method called freshwater maceration. This method uses room temperature water and natural bacterial growth to remove flesh, sand, and other debris from the bones. Following freshwater maceration, I used Dawn dish soap to degrease the bones, and then used hydrogen peroxide to whiten them. After drying the cleaned bones, I organized them for reassembly. Because the specimen was an immature individual, many of the bones were not fused as they would be in an adult specimen. I began with the assembly of the skull fragments, using E6000 adhesive to join them together after aligning the matching bone sutures in each of the various skull sections. I was able to reconstruct the skull which will be used in the teaching collection at Cal Poly. I will continue my work organizing the remaining sections of the skeleton to produce an anatomically correct reference specimen and document my methodology for the organization and articulation of a young elephant seal.

[23]: Preparation and Ring Opening of Benzofused Arylcyclopropanes

Emma Langworthy1★, Kay Herlihy2★, Eric Kantorowski2

1 Department of Biological Sciences, 2 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Speaker

Our research is focused on determining ring-opening regioselectivity of benzofused 1-arylbicyclo[n.1.0]alkane derivatives. Cyclopropanes are highly strained structures frequently used in drug development. Understanding their reactivity improves their reliable application in organic chemistry research. Our studies aim to understand how varying the ring size (n) influences the rate and direction of bond fragmentation. The target cyclopropane derivatives can be prepared by a four-step synthetic pathway. Heating these compounds in acidic conditions (AcOH, pTsOH, or HCl) induces the ring opening. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) are the primary instrumentation tools for following the ring opening reaction. Our analyses track reaction progress over time and determine major and minor products for each reaction. The goal of the investigation is to optimize the conditions for these ring-opening reactions and to exercise control over the direction of fragmentation.

[24]: Relocation and Euthanasia Policies of California Animal Service Organizations

Keaton Kalasardo1★, Taylor Saville1, Morgan Francis2, Audrey Beaver1, Emily Taylor1

1 Department of Biological Sciences, 2 Environmental Management, Speaker

California is home to a broad range of habitats, but the increasing range of human development is overtaking them and exposing people to wildlife more frequently as a result. Snakes are often considered a nuisance by the general public, especially venomous rattlesnakes that may be considered a hazard to people, pets, and livestock. The removal of these "nuisance snakes" is often handled by calling the local Animal Services division or similar organization, but people may not be aware of how these organizations will respond to the snake in question. There are at least 150 such publicly sanctioned and funded organizations in California, and this study was designed to investigate whether they respond to calls about nuisance snakes and to catalog their procedures in response (i.e., relocation or euthanasia). This study included a survey sent out to representatives of these organizations who answered questions about their organization's policies, plus public record requests to the organizations for data they possessed regarding snake-related calls in order to determine the prevalence of relocation and euthanasia.