How well crickets adapt to rising temperatures may provide clues about whether or not humans can survive global warming.
UCF scientist Wade Winterhalter landed an $860,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for an innovative study that fuses global warming models with a biological model that predicts the reproduction patterns of the striped ground cricket, also known as the Allonemobius socius.
If successful, Winterhalter's study could provide insights into the impact of global warming on other creatures, their life cycles and their migration patterns and it could further the understanding of how global warming will affect mankind.
"We, as scientists, are no longer trying to determine if global warming is occurring or if it will be 'bad' for our native wildlife or our domesticated plants and animals," said Winterhalter. "Those questions have already been answered. What this project does is determine exactly how 'bad' it is going to get and how much time we have before these negative consequences will occur."
This is one of the first research projects that links Atmospheric Oceanic General Circulation Models that predict rises in temperature over time with a sound biological model that successfully predicts breeding patterns of a creature.
Winterhalter is working with UCF biology professor Kenneth Fedorka and genetic experts at Cornell University. The study concludes in 2011, but Winterhalter is already analyzing some preliminary data.
Winterhalter chose crickets because their life and reproduction cycles are triggered by temperature cues. When it gets colder, they lay diapause eggs that can survive through winter before hatching. When it is still warm, they lay eggs that develop quickly into crickets. Crickets in the northern U.S. are better at laying the dormant eggs, while those in the south are better are reproducing quickly while it is still hot.
Winterhalter and his team took cricke
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University of Central Florida