Science for Everyone

communicating science

Scallop Nerds Unite!

From April 23rd through April 28th, 2015, I attended and presented at the 20th International Pectinid Workshop in Galway, Ireland. Scientists from all over the world participated and session topics included ecology and general biology, aquaculture, fisheries, marine protected areas, biotoxins, resource management, and two sessions were dedicated to physiology, biochemistry, and genetics. A special session focused on Pectinids as witnesses of their environment in a changing ocean. This session featured work by French scientists to develop analysis tools which will use the shells of scallops to determine environmental characteristics at the time when the shell is formed. They have yet to determine the method for Placopecten magellanicus, the species found in Maine, but when they do, we hope to send them samples from the Muscle Ridge and Ocean Point closed areas.

Maine representatives L-R Skylar Bayer, Caitlin Cleaver, Trish Cheney, Carla Guenther, and Dana Morse

Maine representatives L-R Skylar Bayer, Caitlin Cleaver, Trish Cheney, Carla Guenther, and Dana Morse

Maine was well represented at the conference, with four of us presenting our current research including Skylar Bayer, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, who presented on her dissertation work studying fertilization success in the Atlantic Sea Scallop (Placopecten magellanicus). Trisha Cheney, Resource coordinator for scallops, urchins, groundfish permit bank at Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) presented on state scallop management efforts, and Dr. Carla Guenther, Senior Scientist at Penobscot East Resource Center (PERC) and a member of the Scallop Advisory Council, followed up Trish's presentation by sharing the work that PERC and DMR have done to build trust within the scallop fishing community and to implement the rotational closed area management system currently in place in Zone 2. I provided preliminary results from quantifying the effect of the Muscle Ridge Closed Area on scallop populations. 

Dr. Kevin Stokesbury, Dr. Dave Bethoney, and Dr. Susan Inglis from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (You can find info about their work here) and Dr. Dvora Hart who works in the Population Dynamics Branch at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, MA, presented on their work on the federal scallop fishery which ranged from a parasite in scallops that causes the white meat of the adductor to turn gray to larval dispersal.  

Conversations with workshop participants have inspired me to consider additional methods for the Collaborative Scallop Project that would improve the power of the study. In the near term, I am hoping to organize a visit to the Northeast Fisheries Science Center to learn their shell aging and growth rate methods so we can apply it to the shells we've collected over the past two years. 

A full group photo from the conference (I am hiding in the back row at the left edge of the blue background)

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New Year, New Calendar

Photo of Lisa Goddard by Charlie Naebeck.

Photo of Lisa Goddard by Charlie Naebeck.

If you are in the market for a super cool science calendar, check out the 2014 Climate Models Calendar, which claims to be "the only calendar on Earth that shares the planet's hottest climate science and the people behind it."

Each month, the calendar features one of Columbia’s renowned climate scientists and includes information about their interests, work, and their favorite dataset, chart or climate phenomenon. The calendar also includes dates of weather and climate events that live in infamy, dates of key scientific meetings…in other words, everything you need to have an awesome year of science!

One of the portraits in the calendar features scientist Lisa Goddard, Director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. Lisa's work focuses on improving the reliability and use of climate models, especially those that indicate conditions over the next few decades in different parts of the world.

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Hurricane's Hummingbirds

I first started noticing these ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) feeding on a large patch of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) in early September. This species of hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times a second and weighs between 2-6 grams (for comparison, 2 nickels weigh 10 grams). You can read more about hummingbirds here.


Check out this computer simulation of a hummingbird in flight, the red indicates vortices of air. Haoxiang Luo, a professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt, built this simulation from slow motion videos of the hummingbirds flying. This cool science blog from NPR talks more about this simulation and how hummingbirds fly.

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Citizen Science

There are tons of citizen science initiatives in the world, but I wanted to highlight a few that are particularly a) cool, and b) relevant to coastal Maine. 

Project Noah The premise of Project Noah is to create an online community of amateur naturalists who report their "spottings"  via a simple online form that includes the date spotted, location, a photograph, and any additional description or anecdotal information the spotter wishes to share. I have created a profile, and have been uploading spottings from around Hurricane this summer if you'd like to check it out. Project Noah also has a "missions" feature where you cater the spottings for a particular cause. 

eBird eBird is an initiative put on by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (an organization that has created a myriad of other citizen science initiatives as well) that encourages amateur naturalists to submit bird sightings. What is REALLY COOL about the data that you submit is that it helps Cornell create these "occurrence maps" showing different birds movements across the US over the course of the year. Check our this white-throated sparrow occurrence map.

GoBotany GoBotany is a New England online plant field guide which has an incredible database and dichotomous key to help you identify an unfamiliar plant.  Within this website there is a feature called plant share, where you can upload and track your plant sightings. To be honest, I am more of a generalist, and prefer Project Noah's easy upload format, but if you are strictly into botany, this is your site.

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