Showing posts from April, 2018

Extreme makeover: oyster edition

When I was in high school, there was a show on every Sunday night called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition . I remember watching it with my family as we snacked on popcorn. The premise of the show was simple: a needy family, usually one with a sick child and insufficient resources to afford the necessary accommodations, was sent on vacation while their home was ripped to its studs and remade for free. The family would return home to find a house they didn't recognize, but which finally had the wheelchair access or hospital-quality air filtration their child needed, plus a sunny living room and a landscaped front yard. This week, I couldn't help but remember those evenings of watching another family get a brand-new house, because I just performed my very own extreme makeover. Do you remember the oyster paper? I've been working for over a year to analyze a dataset about swimming behavior in oyster larvae. I have written code , made graphs , and counted the number of times a la

Name that copepod!

"Got a question for you," I told my friend, Kristina. "What copepod lives at 79 N, 4 E, 2500 m depth?" Kristina thought for a second. Copepods are small crustaceans, related to crabs and shrimps. They are abundant all over the world, and they form an important link in the food chain. Copepods are most abundant in the surface ocean, but some live close to the seafloor. Kristina's research focuses on the distribution of copepods in the Arctic, so I thought she might be able to answer my question. Instead, she gestured across the room. "This gentleman might now," she informed me. AY looked up from his microscope and came over. I introduced myself, then repeated my question. He put a hand up to his chin. He thought for a second. Then he asked, "Do you have a sample?" The amphipod specimen AY helped me identify. Two individuals are attached to and being eaten by a carnivorous sponge. They're the clear lumps with red eyes in the cente

Sea ice analysis

I clicked the blue text to open the link for the folder. August 2003. Before me appeared a list of files, each with blue text as well. One for each day in the month. I clicked on the first one, and the file for August 1 downloaded to my laptop. August 2. August 3. One by one, the daily files streamed onto my hard drive. I clicked through files for hours. Each one contained data on ice cover in the Arctic, with a separate file for each day from August 1, 2003 to August 31, 2017. That's the period when larvae may have settled on my recruitment panels in the Arctic deep sea. I've been trying to figure out what environmental factors might influence recruitment, based on results from the  long-term experiment I recovered with my German collaborators last summer . So far, I've looked at changes in water temperature,  bottom current , and food input to the seafloor. Nothing seemed to quite line up. So I started looking at the ice cover. Sea ice in the Fram Strait Sea ice


As some of you know, I'm currently working to analyze data I collected last summer, about recruitment in the Arctic deep sea . I worked with German collaborators to finish a long-term experiment, and we collected a set of brick and plastic panels that had been on the seafloor for 18 years. Since the cruise last August, I have counted, identified, and measured all the recruits that were on the panels and begun writing two papers about my findings. I wanted to compare the recruitment patterns of my animals over time to environmental data, to see if there was any connection between what was going on in the environment and what animals settled on the panels in different years. My German collaborators have incredible long-term data sets from the Hausgarten observatory , where the recruitment experiment took place, so I'm able to mine the data and look for patterns. The most important environmental factor for my recruiting species is the current. All of the most common species on t

Garbage Beach

It is April! The weather in Massachusetts is warming, and I find myself thinking more and more about the upcoming summer. I have a number of projects that require field work in the summer months, so I'm spending my spring preparing for them. I got a small study funded to examine the fauna on shipwrecks in New England, and collecting my samples will require me to SCUBA dive at some pretty challenging locations. I need to be at the top of my diving game this summer, so that translates into a lot of dive training this spring. Our group of divers at Garbage Beach Carl and I loaded the car and headed out on Saturday morning to Garbage Beach in Woods Hole . We had invited some friends along and ended up gathering a group of five. Garbage Beach is just a little strip of beach down the street from my office at WHOI, and it is an easily-accessible site with interesting animals living on the bottom. The catch? The only place to park and prepare your dive gear is the parallel parking sp