One of the most important adaptations elephant seal pups
have developed is reducing water loss by decreasing urine
output, however the mechanisms involved with urine formation
and excretion have not been well defined in this species.
Another important adaptation that has allowed these animals to
fast for such prolonged periods is a shift in metabolized
substrate from protein within the first week to fat for the
remainder of the fast. Periods of food restriction and fasting
induce dramatic changes in a number of different hormones that
help regulate a person's metabolic rate.
However, an examination of these hormones in elephant seals
is lacking. The intent of this research was to provide a much
better understanding of the physiological mechanisms used to
regulate kidney function and metabolism in a species adapted
to prolonged periods of fasting, and to use this information
to help elucidate the biomedical consequences of anorexia,
diabetes, obesity, and renal dysfunctions in humans, as well.
Rudy M. Ortiz's Lab Group