On the 11th and 12th of November 2017 London’s Natural History Museum hosted HumaNature, a co-sponsored conference between World Extreme Medicine (WEM), the Society for Experimental Biology, brought together experts in the fields of medicine and animal physiology. Our School’s Senior Lecturer, Dr Carl Soulsbury, delivered a talk about his extensive research. 

The symposium was established by WEM’s founder Mark Hannaford and Prof. Craig Franklin- Deputy Head of the School of Biological Sciences / Executive Director of Research Ethics, University of Queensland. The 2 day event provided an opportunity for attendees to share research, best practice and techniques between the worlds of human and animal medicine.

A summary of Dr Soulsbury’s talk can be found below.

Exercising to the limit (and more) in birds

Many organisms carry out exercise as part of their daily lives, be it through behaviours such as finding food, reproducing or avoiding predators. In birds, many species carry out impressive physical feats such as long distance migration, flying at high altitudes, through to intense, energetically expensive mating displays. Exercise can be viewed both in terms of its intensity and its duration. It is the combination of these that determines how physiologically stressful exercise is. In this talk, I compare the relative contribution of duration and intensity of exercise as determinants of exercise’s costs, and how this in turn impacts individual ageing. Using systems where the amount of intensive exercise pushes individuals to their physiological limits, I demonstrate its negative effect on individual physiology and survival. By using comparisons found in nature, it can provide critical insights into the effects of intense and extreme exercise on the human body.

A podcast featuring a selection of the speakers, including Dr Soulsbury, can be found online (credit to Ben Cattaneo of ‘Allthingsrisk’).