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Animal Energetics

Animal Energetics

How much energy do animals use to perform important functions?

Domestic Dog Social Cognition

Domestic Dog Social Cognition

Alexa Tullis

Research Program Overview

My research interests fall along two lines: animal energetics and domestic dog social cognition.

Animals Energetics:

My research in the area of animal energetics has focused on how much metabolic energy animals use to perform important metabolic functions, and how environmental factors can influence these costs.

·       My students and I drawn upon the great diversity in the animal kingdom in our investigations, including both invertebrates (insects, crabs, sea stars, brachiopods, and bivalves) and vertebrates (sharks and snakes). 

·       The approach my students and I take employs both whole-animal metabolic measurements and cellular and biochemical-level assays.  

·       In the near future, projects in my lab will focus on assessing the influence of environmental stressors (e.g., extreme temperature, salinity, aerial exposure) on the metabolic rate of marine invertebrates. Within this broad context, I will work with students to come up with interesting and relevant projects.

Domestic Dog Social Cognition: 

This avenue of my research is done in collaboration with Dr. Erin Colbert-White of the Psychology Department at the University of Puget Sound.

Alexa's dog, Tobi-ko      In our research Dr. Colbert-White and I have investigated how human vocal intonation influences dog behavior when making choices.

We have identified a few possible projects on the horizon including:

·       testing whether or not videos marketed to stave off dogs' boredom actually work.

·       examining how reward schedule influences results of choice experiments.



Tullis, A. and Straube, C. H. T. (2017). The metabolic cost of carrying a sexually selected trait in the male fiddler crab Uca pugilatorJournal of Experimental Biology, DOI:10.1242/jeb.163816. (Abstract)

Fly, E.K.*, Monaco, C.J., Pincebourde, S. and Tullis, A. (2012). The influence of intertidal location and temperature on the metabolic cost of emersion in Pisaster ochraceus. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 422-423: 20-28. pdf

Tullis, A. and Andrus, S.C.* (2011). The cost of incline locomotion in ghost crabs of different sizes. Journal of Comparative Physiology. 181(7): 873-881. pdf

Madlung, A., Bremer, M., Himelblau, E. and Tullis, A. (2011). A study assessing the potential of negative effects in interdisciplinary math-biology instruction. Life Science Education, 10: 43-54. (Abstract)

Moon, B.R.  and Tullis, A. (2006). The ontogeny of contractile performance and metabolic capacity in a high-frequency muscle. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 79(1): 20-30. pdf

Tullis, A. and Baillie, M.I.*  (2005). The metabolic and biochemical responses of a tropical elasmobranch to alterations in environmental temperature. Journal of Fish Biology, 67: 950 - 968. pdf

Tullis, A. and Peterson, G.*  (2000).  Growth and metabolism in embryonic white spotted bamboo sharks, Chiloscyllium plagiosum:  Comparison with embryonic birds and reptiles. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology73(3): 271 - 282. pdf

Londraville, R.L., Cramer, T.D., Frank, J.P., Tullis, A., and Block, B.A.  (2000).  Cloning of a neonatal calcium ATPase isoform (SERCA 1B) from extrocular muscle of adult blue marlin (Makaira nigricans). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, B.  127: 223 - 233.  (Abstract)

Tullis, A. and Block, B.A.  (1997).  Histochemical and immunohistochemical studies on the origin of the blue marlin heater cell phenotype.  Tissue and Cell. 29(6):  627 - 642. (Abstract)

Tullis, A. and Block, B.A. (1996).  Expression of SR Ca2+ ATPase isoforms in marlin and swordfish skeletal, extraocular, and thermogenic muscle cells.  American Journal of Physiology, 271:  R262-R275.  (Abstract)

Tullis, A., Block, B.A. and Sidell, B.D.  (1991).  Activities of key metabolic enzymes in the heater organs of scombroids fishes.  Journal of Experimental Biology, 161: 383-403.  (Abstract)

Full, R.J. and Tullis, A.  (1990).  Capacity for sustained terrestrial locomotion in an insect: Energetics, thermal dependence, and kinematics.  Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 160: 573-581.

Full, R.J., Zuccarello, D.A. and Tullis, A.  (1990).  Effects of variation in form on the cost of terrestrial locomotion. Journal of Experimental Biology, 150: 233-246.  (Abstract)

Full, R.J. and Tullis, A.  (1990).  The energetics of ascent: Insects on inclines. Journal of Experimental Biology, 149: 307-317.  (Abstract)

*indicates Puget Sound students/alumni