Faculty & Staff
N. Koopman, Associate Professor
Duke University, Durham, NC, 2001
M.S., Zoology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 1994
B.S., Marine Biology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 1992
Friday Hall 2069 | (910) 962-7199 | 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403-5915
firstname.lastname@example.org | http://people.uncw.edu/koopmanh
I am a physiologist with research interests in the role and importance of marine lipids, and how the biochemical characteristics of these molecules fit into functional and evolutionary contexts in various groups of marine organisms. Most marine vertebrates (including marine mammals, large teleosts, and seabirds) have developed unique, highly specialized adipose depots with specific functions. My laboratory will use a combination of methods, including anatomical, histological, and biochemical techniques, to examine three facets of the physiology of marine animals: metabolism/health, specialized adaptations, and phylogenetic lineage.
Of particular interest are endogenously synthesized lipids, which can be essential components of specialized adipose tissues and are often unique to certain groups of animals. One example of these can be found in the lipid-rich cranial adipose depots found in the heads of toothed whales, which are associated with the transmission and reception of sound during echolocation and hearing. One of my current projects involves comparing the topographical variation in the lipid composition of the acoustic fats of beaked whales, porpoises, and dolphins, to examine the question of whether the processes of sound transmission and reception are fundamentally different in these species. I am also interested in the importance of waxes in the adipose tissues of marine animals that spend significant time at depth: sperm whales, beaked whales, myctophid fishes, and copepods. We do not yet understand the effects that pressure and temperature have on lipid metabolism, nor do we fully understand the basic synthetic pathways of wax esters in most groups of animals. Why animals like beaked whales and myctophids have developed such an unusual lipid synthesis pathway is a question I plan to investigate using a comparative approach. In addition, I also study basic patterns of lipid deposition and mobilization in marine vertebrates. These animals all face the challenges of energy storage, movement, reproduction and hydrodynamics. The ways in which different types of lipids are partitioned within the body in order to meet these challenges can provide valuable insight into life history strategies, energetics, and specialized adaptations.
Koopman, H.N., Iverson, S. J., and Read, A. J. 2003. High concentrations of isovaleric acid in the fats of odontocetes: Stability in the melon vs. variation and patterns of accumulation in blubber. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 173: 247-261.
Koopman, H. N., Pabst, D. A., McLellan, W. A., Dillaman, R. M., and Read, A. J. 2002. Changes in blubber distribution and morphology associated with starvation in the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena): Evidence for regional differences in blubber structure and function. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 75: 498-512.
McLellan, W. A., Koopman, H. N., Rommel, S. A., Read, A. J., Potter, C. W., Nicolas, J. R., Westgate, A. J., and Pabst, D. A. 2002. Ontogenetic allometry and body composition of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena L.) from the western north Atlantic. Journal of Zoology, London 257:457-472.