Unlike most tadpoles, Xenopus feeds by hovering in the water column, pumping water through its mouth and branchial basket, and filtering food particles out of suspension. To maintain a constant position in the water column, Xenopus uses its lungs for positive buoyancy and laterally beats its tail to create a counterbalancing downward force. Although Xenopus tadpoles usually align themselves close to vertical in the water column, they are never fully vertical and yet they often are stationary. To explain the lack of forward movement that would be expected from a tail being less than vertical, we propose that their tail is curved dorsally so that the force produced by its lateral undulations can be directed entirely downward and not forward. Since relative lung size generally increases with tadpole growth, we hypothesize that the degree of tail curvature would need to increase to maintain neutral buoyancy. We also hypothesize that tadpoles that can be induced to develop larger lungs will also have more curved tails. These hypotheses are being tested by comparing tail curvature and lung size in tadpoles that undergo normal development, development in chemical treatments that prolong tadpole growth to an abnormally large size, and development in cages that prevent tadpoles from inflating their lungs.

Additional Abstract Information

Student(s): Nicole Hoguet, Christina Modolo, Orquidea Aleagha

Department: Biology

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Chris Rose

Type: Poster

Year: 2017

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