CIE Seminar Series 2015 – Plasticity of locomotor function and its effect on behaviour

Frank SeebacherSPEAKER: Professor Frank Seebacher, Professor of Biology,School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney
DATE: Friday, 8th May 2015
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka5.303
TIME: 12:00 noon
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses:
Melbourne Campus at Burwood HD3.008 and Warrnambool Campus, Room G1.01 (Percy Baxter LT)

ABSTRACT: The capacity to move is one of the most fundamental aspects in animal biology, and it influences biodiversity, fitness, and behaviour.

Any environmental parameter that limits locomotor performance and its underlying physiology will therefore also constrain behaviour. Many animals can compensate for environmental variability physiologically within and across generations.

Here I will present recent work aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying this phenotypic plasticity, and their downstream effect on behaviour. I will focus on regulation of muscle function from the system level to DNA modification.

I suggest that variation in muscle function, which is maintained in response to environmental variability, can also explain behavioural differences between individuals.


  • PhD (1994) at University of Queensland on thermoregulation of crocodiles.
  • Postdoctoral work at James Cook University with Ross Alford (1995-1996) investigating physiology and population dynamics of cane toads.
  • University of Queensland with Gordon Grigg (1997-2000) looking at the role of the cardiovascular system in thermoregulation of reptiles.
  • Employed at University of Sydney since 2001, and currently Professor in Biology. My research focusses on physiological responses to variable climates. I am particularly interested in plasticity within individuals and across generations, and in responses across all levels of organisation from molecules to behaviour and populations.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Vincent Careau