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The Shiels Laboratory

Linking hearts to whole animal performance

One of the research goals in Shiels laboratory is to understand what physiological mechanisms determine whole animal performance and how they are affected by environmental changes. In our lab this is studied using a multi-level approach:

  • Swim tunnel respirometry is used to assess whole animal swimming performance under controlled environmental conditions. What is more, by simultaneously capturing high speed video footage of the swimming fish we aim to link energetic expenditure and kinematics of swimming.
  • Cardiac performance (such as heart rate, stroke volume and/or cardiac output) of swimming fish is measured in vivo to investigate whether changes in swimming performance can be explained by changes in cardiorespiratory function.
  • In vitro cardiac function is measured using isometric myocardial preparations to investigate underlying cellular mechanisms (such as intracellular calcium handling) controlling cardiac function.

In addition, by collaborating with The Ribble Rivers Trust we can monitor the environmental conditions fish populations experience in the wild and link lab-based research with real life fish management and conservation.