The role of the abdominal pump in tracheal tube collapse in the darkling beetle, Zophobas morio
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Abdominal pumping is a widespread behavior in insects. However, there remains ambiguity surrounding the abdominal pumping behavior, both in terms of describing what exactly abdominal pumping is (i.e., if various modes of operation exist) and also what function(s) abdominal pumping serves (and if function is conserved across groups of insects). In some insects respiratory patterns have been correlated with abdominal movements, although the specific mechanical effects of these movements on the animal\'s respiratory system are generally unknown. Conversely, some insects (such as beetles, ants, and crickets) create convection in the respiratory system by compressing their tracheal tubes, yet the underlying physiological mechanisms of tracheal collapse are also unknown. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between abdominal pumping and the compression of tracheal tubes in the darkling beetle, Zophobas morio. I observed the movements of the abdomen and tracheal tubes using synchrotron x-ray imaging and video cameras, while concurrently monitoring CO2 expiration. I identified and characterized two distinct abdominal movements differentiated by the synchrony (the pinch movement) or lack of synchrony (the wave movement) of abdominal tergite movement. Tracheal tube compressions (and corresponding CO2 pulses) occurred concurrently with every pinch movement. This study provides evidence of a mechanistic linkage between abdominal movements and tracheal tube compressions in the ground beetle, Zophobas morio.
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