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Mammals: Warm-blooded vertebrate animals belonging to the class Mammalia, including all that possess hair and suckle their young.

Using Deuterium Oxide as a Non-Invasive, Non-Lethal Tool for Assessing Body Composition and Water Consumption in Mammals

1Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri, 2College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, 3Department of Animal Science, University of Missouri, 4School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, 5USDA USFS Northern Research Station

JoVE 59442


Parental Care

JoVE 10921

Many animals exhibit parental care behavior, including feeding, grooming, and protecting young offspring. Parental care is universal in mammals and birds, which often have young that are born relatively helpless. Several species of insects and fish, as well as some amphibians, also care for their young.

Parental care can occur even before hatching in birds, when parents sit on their eggs to incubate them. After hatching, the parents provide food for their offspring, and may continue to brood their young to keep them warm. Both male and female birds provide parental care, depending on the species. In marsupial mammals, such as kangaroos, the embryos are often born at a very early stage and then crawl into their mother’s pouch. Here, the mother nurses and protects her offspring—sometimes for many months—until it can function more independently. Placental mammals are born more developed than marsupials, but they still require a lot of care. Mammalian parental care is mostly provided by the mother, triggered by the hormones of pregnancy and birth and the necessity of lactation for providing nutrients. Nursing is an essential kind of mammalian parental care since the mother’s milk is the primary source of food for the young. Mammals also often lick their newborns and carry them around—grooming, protecting, and bonding wi

 Core: Biology

Threats to Biodiversity

JoVE 10951

There have been five major extinction events throughout geological history, resulting in the elimination of biodiversity, followed by a rebound of species that adapted to the new conditions. In the current geological epoch, the Holocene, there is a sixth extinction event in progress. This mass extinction has been attributed to human activities and is thus provisionally called the Anthropocene. In 2019 the human population reached 7.7 billion people and is projected to comprise 10 billion by 2060. Indicative of our impact, by biomass (the actual mass of a particular species), humans make up 36% of Earth’s mammals, livestock 60%, and wild mammals only 4%. Approximately 70% of all birds are poultry, so only 30% are wild. To minimize human impact on biodiversity and climate, we have to understand which of our activities are problematic and balance the needs of human civilization and progress with a sustainable plan for future generations. Some of the major threats to biodiversity include habitat loss due to human development, over-farming, and increased carbon dioxide emissions from factories and vehicles. A case study in human impact on the weather can be found in the 1930s event known as the Dust Bowl. In the 1920s and 30s, a large number of farmers moved to the Great Plains and clear cut the land, removing the native ground covering plants in order to

 Core: Biology

Antibody Structure

JoVE 10898

Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins (Ig), are essential players of the adaptive immune system. These antigen-binding proteins are produced by B cells and make up 20 percent of the total blood plasma by weight. In mammals, antibodies fall into five different classes, which each elicits a different biological response upon antigen binding.

Antibodies consist of four polypeptide chains: two identical heavy chains of approximately 440 amino acids each, and two identical light chains composed of roughly 220 amino acids each. These chains are arranged in a Y-shaped structure that is held together by a combination of covalent disulfide bonds and noncovalent bonds. Furthermore, most antibodies carry sugar residues. The process of adding sugar side chains to a protein is called glycosylation. Both the light chain and heavy chain contribute to the antigen binding site at each of the tips of the Y structure. These 110-130 amino acids are highly variable to allow recognition of an almost unlimited number of antigens. This region is also called the variable region and is part of the antigen binding fragment. Each arm of the Y-shaped unit carries an identical antigen binding site. Antibodies can crosslink antigens: when one arm binds to one antigen and the other arm binds to a second, structurally identical antigen. Crosslinking is facilitated by the f

 Core: Biology

An Introduction to the Laboratory Mouse: Mus musculus

JoVE 5129

Mice (Mus musculus) are an important research tool for modeling human disease progression and development in the lab. Despite differences in their size and appearance, mice share a distinct genetic similarity to humans, and their ability to reproduce and mature quickly make them efficient and economical candidate mammals for scientific study.

This video provides a brief…

 Biology II

Drosophila melanogaster Embryo and Larva Harvesting and Preparation

JoVE 5094

Drosophila melanogaster embryos and larvae are easy to manipulate and develop rapidly by mechanisms that are analogous to other organisms, including mammals. For these reasons, many researchers utilize fly embryos and larvae to answer questions in diverse fields ranging from behavioral to developmental biology. Prior to experimentation, however, the embryos and larvae must first be…

 Biology I

What is Evolutionary History?

JoVE 11130

Scientists record evolutionary history by analyzing fossil, morphological, and genetic data. The fossil record documents the history of life on Earth and provides evidence for evolution. However, both fossil and living organisms offer evidence that outlines Earth’s evolutionary history.

Phylogenetic trees illustrate the evolutionary relationships among these organisms. Scientists infer organisms’ common ancestry by evaluating shared morphological and genetic characteristics. Together, the fossil record and phylogenetic trees help scientists to reconstruct the evolutionary history of life on Earth. According to evolutionary history, conditions on early Earth set the stage for life to begin. Nearly 4 billion years ago, atmospheric water vapor condensed into rain that filled the planet’s basins to form oceans. Consequently, as documented by fossil evidence, life on Earth began with the advent of unicellular life. Scientists, such as astrobiologists, use this knowledge to research the potential for life on other planets. The presence of water is presumed to be a universally shared requirement for life. Water found on Mars, for example, suggests that life—most likely bacteria—may exist on that planet as well. As conditions changed on Earth, organisms’ complexity and variety also changed. Oxygenation of Earth&rsqu

 Core: Biology

The Colonization of Land

JoVE 11016

Changes in the environment of the early Earth drove the evolution of organisms. As prokaryotic organisms in the oceans began to photosynthesize, they produced oxygen. Eventually, oxygen saturated the oceans and entered the air, resulting in an increase in atmospheric oxygen concentration, known as the oxygen revolution approximately 2.3 billion years ago. Therefore, organisms that could use oxygen for cellular respiration had an advantage. More than 1.5 years ago, eukaryotic cells and multicellular organisms also began to appear. Initially, all of these species were restricted to the oceans of Earth. The first organisms to live on land were photosynthetic prokaryotes that inhabited moist environments near ocean shores. Despite the lack of water, terrestrial environments offered an abundance of sunlight and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Around 500 million years ago, the ancestors of nowadays plants were able to colonize drier environments, but they required adaptations to prevent dehydration. They developed methods for reproduction that did not depend on water and protected their embryos from drying out. These early plants furthermore evolved a vascular system that included roots to acquire water and nutrients and a shoot to obtain sunlight and carbon dioxide. Plants and fungi appear to have colonized land at the same time. Their coevolution onto land

 Core: Biology

Comparative Excretory Systems

JoVE 10998

Animals have evolved different strategies for excretion, the removal of waste from the body. Most waste must be dissolved in water to be excreted, so an animal’s excretory strategy directly affects its water balance.

Nitrogenous wastes are some of the most significant forms of animal waste. Nitrogen is released when proteins and nucleic acids are broken down for energy or conversion into carbohydrates and fats. Proteins are broken down into amino acids and nucleic acids into nitrogenous bases. The nitrogen-containing amino groups of amino acids and nitrogenous bases are then converted into nitrogenous wastes. Typical nitrogenous wastes released by animals include ammonia, urea, and uric acid. These excretory strategies involve tradeoffs between conserving energy and water. The various nitrogenous wastes reflect distinct habitats and evolutionary histories. For example, most aquatic animals are ammonotelic, meaning they directly excrete ammonia. This approach is less energy-intensive than converting ammonia into urea or uric acid before excretion, but also requires more water. For terrestrial organisms, which face perhaps no more significant regulatory threat than dehydration, water conservation is worth the extra energy cost. Ureotelic animals, like mammals and sharks, convert ammonia into urea before excretion. Urea is less tox

 Core: Biology

Production Efficiency

JoVE 10929

Net production efficiency (NPE) is the efficiency at which organisms assimilate energy into biomass for the next trophic level. Due to low metabolic rates and less energy spent on thermoregulatory processes, the NPE of ectotherms (cold-blooded animals) is 10 times higher than endotherms (warm-blooded animals).

Energy flows through ecosystems, from one organism to the next. However, only the energy stored in an organism as biomass is available as food for the next trophic level. The rest of the energy is lost over time as heat as a byproduct of metabolic processes and excreted wastes. The efficiency with which organisms assimilate this usable energy into biomass is called net production efficiency (NPE), or the percentage of energy stored in biomass that is not used for respiration. For example, in a study of a desert scrub ecosystem, it was found that only 0.016% of the energy produced by primary producers was then assimilated into small herbivore mammal tissue and available for carnivores in this system. Endotherms like birds and mammals typically have low production efficiencies due to the larger quantities of energy spent maintaining constant high body temperatures, and high metabolic rates. On the other hand, the NPE for ectotherms is an order of magnitude higher due to their lower metabolic rates and thermoregulatory behaviors. Therefore, a mammal

 Core: Biology
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