Kara E Yopak — ASN Events

Kara Yopak

University of Western Australia, WA, Australia

  • This delegate is presenting an abstract at this event.
Kara E. Yopak is an integrative biologist, bringing together fields of ichthyology, evolutionary biology, functional morphology, and bioimaging to explore the forces acting on evolution of the brain of cartilaginous fishes. She is a part of the Neuroecology Group, which resides within the UWA Oceans Institute and the School of Animal Biology. With a collection of brain tissue across nearly 200 species of sharks batoids, and chimaerids, she studies how the development of major brain areas varies between species in conjunction with the adaptive evolution of their sensory and motor systems. This talk will focus on comparative brain morphology within the sawfishes and how differences in brain organization may reflect morphological adaptations in this group. Dr. Yopak will also discuss the technique of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which allows for non-invasive interrogation of the central nervous system and the quantification of internal anatomy. As a perfect ‘bioindicator,’ variation in brain development can allow us to make predictions about sensory and behavioral specialization across species, highlight transitions in life-history stages within a single species, and predict the fitness consequences of anthropogenic disturbances and environmental change in these critically endangered species.