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Hot Bugs at the County Museum

Dr. David M. Polcyn will give a program on the adaptation of insects to extreme environments at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands on Wednesday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. This free guest lecture is open to the public.

Large flying insects such as dragonflies are a conspicuous part of the desert fauna, and are active throughout the extremely hot Mojave Desert summers. Research on an assemblage of species inhabiting ponds at CSU’s Soda Springs Desert Studies Center has shown elevated body temperature regulation and tolerances in the desert populations relative to related species inhabiting cooler environments. Dr. Polcyn has also studied metabolic rates of desert dragonflies and found them to be quite high compared to most other flying insects. Behavioral studies are currently being conducted in order to determine time-energy budgets of these desert populations. This information on temperature regulation, metabolic rates and activity patterns will provide insight into the energetic and ecological cost of adaptation to an extreme thermal environment.

A new phase of research includes the electrophoretic analysis of these same desert dragonflies to determine and compare the population structure of numerous species in several isolated desert habitats, to identify the specific adaptations in flight muscle enzyme systems underlying the thermal tolerances unique to the populations inhabiting the desert, and to identify the role heat shock proteins play in the increased thermal tolerances in desert populations. Thus, Polcyn’s research on the ecology of a single community of dragonflies spans the breadth of the biological disciplines, from the molecular through to the community levels, with emphasis on a thorough understanding of adaptation at the level of the individual.

Dr. David M. Polcyn earned his B.A. at California State University, Fullerton and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside. Currently a professor and chairman of the Department of Biology at California State University, San Bernardino, his research interests center around the physiological ecology of animals, especially those that inhabit extreme environments.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. Parking is free. For more information, visit

The San Bernardino County Museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669 ext. 229 / TDD/TTY: (909) 792-1462.


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San Bernardino County Museum - (909) 307-2669 - 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, California 92374 TDD/TYY: (909) 792-1462

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