Aidan Short and Invasive Green Crabs

What central questions did your summer research address?

AidenDissectsCrabs1My research focused on determining what species invasive green crabs (Carcinus maenas) are eating and how frequently they are eating specific prey species. Specifically, I wanted to know if soft shell clams make up a large part of green crab diet. Green crabs are believed to be one of the major causes in the decline of the soft shell clam industry, and in past studies an inverse correlation has been observed between the abundance of green crabs and the abundance of soft shell clams. By understanding how often green crabs are eating soft shell clams, I would provide valuable insight into how green crab presence affects soft shell clam populations. As well as being a major predator to soft shell clams, green crabs are believed to be mowing down eel grass (Zostera marina) beds in the pursuit of prey species that live in these eel grass beds. I want to determine what green crabs are eating in eel grass beds, and possibly whether green crabs are eating eel grass.

How specifically did you conduct this research?

crabsAwaitingFreezing1I answered these questions using next generation sequencing to sequence DNA extracted from green crab stomach contents. More specifically, I set out traps in two eel grass sites and two mud flats, fished the traps, removed the stomachs of the captured green crabs, and extracted the DNA from the stomach contents. I then used general primers to amplify DNA with PCR, and I sent out these amplified samples to be sequenced.

What did an average day of your work entail?

AidenDissectsCrabs3An average day of work varied for me. Most days I was in the lab, either performing dissections on green crabs or doing bench work, but about twice a week I got the opportunity to go out to the Coastal Studies Center and do field work. This field work usually entailed going out on the skiff to check my green crab traps.

What was one of the biggest challenges of your research?
One of the biggest challenges was trying to determine how many samples to run in a single lane for Next-generation sequencing. If we put too many samples in one lane, our reads turned out incomplete because the amount of DNA overpowered the sequencing capabilities, and if we used too few samples, we risked paying for the Next-Generation sequencing without using it to it’s full capabilities.

What was the most rewarding part of your research? What have you learned?

BenModelsWithCrabsThe most rewarding part about my research was getting the opportunity to apply what I have learned as a biology major to an actual problem. The data that I received from this project will hopefully help future conservation projects.

Do you see yourself continuing to do research on this topic?

I would like to continue to learn about applied biology, and the invasive green crab is a particularly interesting case that I believe can be solved using applied biology.

Jenna Watling: Pacific Parrotfish at the Marine Lab

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Pacific parrotfish.

This summer, I worked on three different projects. For my primary project, I assisted Dave Carlon in his research on parrotfish speciation. Professor Carlon has found evidence of speciation through hybridization in parrotfish in the Pacific, and he and I extracted DNA from fin and scale samples and amplified specific genes (both nuclear and mitochondrial) using PCR. PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is a biochemical technology used to amplify the number of copies of a particular stretch of DNA, generating thousands of copies of small pieces. We then confirmed the success of this amplification using gel electrophoresis. Once those initial steps were completed, we prepared samples and sent them away to have the specific genes sequenced. Genetic data was then analyzed in a computer program called Geneious. If, for example, we observed distinctly different patterns of similarity between the mitochondrial versus nuclear genes, that lent support to the hypothesis that some of our parrotfish species arose through hybridization. Speciation through hybridization has not been frequently observed in the wild, which is part of what made our project so interesting.

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Jenna Watling ’16

Additionally, I helped Aiden Short with his study of the diet of green crabs. He collected many crabs from several sites, and I helped him by dissecting them and collecting tissue samples. We collected muscle samples from their claws and then remove their entire stomachs. Aiden used next generation sequencing to discern what the crabs were eating and in what quantity–an improvement from the old technique which mostly consisted of looking at their stomach contents under a microscope–and he used the claw muscle as a safeguard to ensure that he wasn’t including the crabs’ own DNA in his analysis of their stomach contents. His project was especially interesting because green crabs are an invasive species here in Maine, and they’ve been implicated in the decline in quality of our eelgrass beds and possibly even soft shell clam populations. (Soft shell clams are economically important to our state, and eelgrass beds have huge environmental importance.)

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Harvested Blue Mussels

Finally, I assisted Sarah Kingston in her study of calcification rates in blue mussels. Sarah collected blue mussels from various sites, labeled each individual mussel, and took the mass of the mussels. Then she divided the muscles into different tanks held at different temperatures and acidities. Her schemes were selected to simulate likely conditions under climate change. At the end of her testing period, she collected all the muscles, reweighed them to see how the masses of their shells changed (calcification rates), and took tissue samples from every mussel. We spent three days opening the mussels and collecting their feet and adductor muscles. One likely use of the tissue samples will be to look for connections between their genomes and responses to different temperature and pH schemes. I also assisted in further sample collections with the mussels and acted as mussel caretaker, feeding them and recording day-to-day information about temperature, pH, CO2 concentration, and so on.

Working for the Marine Lab this summer, and on such a wide variety of projects, was very rewarding. This experience has inspired me to pursue more research opportunities in the future.

Interested in Marine Sciences?

On Friday, September 26th, 12:00-1:00 pm Jon Witman will join students and faculty in the ES Common Room, Adams Hall for an informal lunch and a short video about Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine– one of the most Capture2dynamic hotspots of biodiversity in New England and the entire North Atlantic, an area where he conducts research and collaborates on conservation efforts. Professor Witman will also share his insight into field-study based marine science programs – an area particularly relevant to Bowdoin as it prepares to launch the new Marine Science Semester program next fall.

Professor  Witman is professor of Biology in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. Having spent a lifetime studying and researching marine ecology around the world – and more specifically in six out of the planet’s seven ocewitman-calendarans – Professor Witman is passionate about developing and promoting marine conservation science.

He received a B.A, M.S and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire. Witman has taught at Northeastern University, where he helped develop the Three Seas Marine Biology Program. He has also worked as a collaborating scientist at the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Galapagos Islands. His research interests primarily include the effects of large-scale processes on local communities, benthic-pelagic coupling, biodiversity and supply-sided and trophic ecology. Currently, his lab is conducting research focused around three themes: 1) physical forcing of marine benthic ecosystems, 2) studies on the origin vs. the maintenance of pattern, and 3) marine biodiversity. How community structuring processes vary with scale is a consideration that pervades all aspects of the lab’s research.

Professor Witman will be delivering a lecture on Thursday, September 25th, 4:00-5:00 pm in Druck 20 on the development of marine communities in the era of climate change.

Image:http://www.witmanlab.com/

Summer in Maine: Islands, boats and the search for mussels

Last week I travelled with Dr. Sarah Kingston (Doherty Marine Biology Postdoctoral Scholar), Dr. Dave Carlon (Director of the Coastal Studies Center), and Marko Melendy (Animal Care Supervisor) to collect mussels at two sites here in Maine: Hurricane Island and Mt Desert Rock. We collected blue mussels (Mytiulus edulis) and bay mussels (M. trossulus) for an experiment Sarah is conducting. She is examining the genetic basis of variation in shell calcification under environmental conditions possible due to ocean acidification. In this round of experiments (the first round was conducted to determine which experimental scheme yielded the greatest variation in shell calcification), there will be one control tank (some food, ambient temperature, and ambient pH) and three identical experimental tanks (no food, high temperature, and low pH). After two weeks, the mussels will be removed from the tanks, their change in shell calcification recorded, and samples of the mussels’ muscles collected. The DNA in these tissue samples will analyzed by a technique called next generation sequencing, and Sarah will look for genetic variation that is associated with calcification rates.

Our trip began at eight on Tuesday morning (August 12, 2014), when we drove to Rockland and then boarded a boat that took us to Hurricane Island. 01By the standards of places that are off the power grid, Hurricane Island is luxurious. They have an impressive solar array that enables hot showers, phone and computer charging, and electric lighting. Hurricane Island was also surprisingly busy; in addition to our little group and the people who work on the island, there was a high school group and some wilderness-first-responders-in-training. Once we arrived on the island, we dropped our things off and hopped back on the boat. Mussels live in the intertidal zone, and it’s easiest to collect them at low tide. Sarah had already asked around for likely sites, which we approached by boat. We hopped ashore and began our search, looking under rockweed and in crevices beneath and between boulders. Our first several sites were rich with periwinkles, whelks, and barnacles, but the only mussels to be found were some solitary horse mussels (M. modiolus). This was what we had feared might happen. When asked where to find mussels, people commonly told Sarah to try such-and-such place, but that there weren’t as many as there used to be. At least the day was beautiful. I’m from Hawaii, and let me tell you, there’s nothing more scenic than Maine in the summer time.

02As we cruised around, we decided on a whim to check an old pier for mussels growing on its sides. Finally we found them hiding in a generous crack just above the water level. With a certain amount of stretching and the help of the boat’s gaff, we were able to collect our first mussel specimens. However, we didn’t want just any mussels. They had to be two to three inches long. Recall that Sarah is interesting in calcification rate; mussels within this size range should still be adding to their shells because they’re in a growth phase. We collected approximately twenty appropriately-sized mussels, put them in a mesh bag, and placed them in a cooler with seawater and ice packs to keep them comfortable. Our luck held at our last two sites. The mussels in those places were not attached to rock as we expected—they were partially buried in the sand like clams. “The cool new lifestyle,” as Marko put it.

04With about seventy mussels in hand, we returned to Hurricane Island. It was only around three in the afternoon, and we had the rest of the day to walk around the island, read, or nap.

Wednesday morning was foggy, but that’s to be expected on the water at five in the morning. We took the boat back to the mainland and separated into two groups. Dave and Marko returned to Brunswick with the mussels we had collected. Sarah and I continued northward to Bar Harbor. From there, we departed for Mt Desert Rock. The fog followed us on our boat ride to the rock.

08Mt. Desert Rock is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a six hundred by two hundred yard chunk of granite that protrudes from the sea.

It’s about twenty-six miles from shore and, like Hurricane Island, is completely off the grid. A lighthouse—built in 1847 using stone quarried on Mt. Desert Rock itself—stands next to the small house that housed the lighthouse keeper in the days of lighthouse keepers. 09There is no running water on the rock. Drinking water is brought by boat along with other groceries. The coast guard has a solar array for the lighthouse, but power for the island’s crew is provided by their own small solar array and a backup generator. Non-electric lighting is provided by lamps that burn propane with kerosene. It’s bare of trees, which makes it look bleak, but it’s far from barren. There are grasses, wild rose bushes, and droves of sea gulls. Herring gulls (common gulls) and black-backed gulls (larger and more aggressive) share the island, and it’s almost impossible to walk five feet without getting screamed at by at least one. Juveniles are everywhere, some of them already flying and some still downy and small. 10More exotic than the gulls, however, were the seals. Gray seals and harbor seals haul themselves out from the water onto the island every day. The island’s crew counts them daily, and counts of several hundred have been recorded. Our group was large for Mt. Desert Rock—the island’s crew, Sarah and me, and a group of fifteen high school students and their two counselors—so more seals than usual opted to remain in the water instead of facing the human horde. The seals that hauled out slept in the sun.

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The wary seals floated offshore with their heads and necks out, looking like solemn mermaids.

We arrived on the island in the afternoon, with the high tide. Collection took place at low tide the next day, around two in the afternoon. The mussels on the rock were difficult to find. We were warned they would be small, but I didn’t process that until we were out looking for them. The first ones we found were nestled in among the barnacles; some had even grown in the shells of dead barnacles. These mussels were small enough to balance on the tip of my finger. I think the constant wave action may be responsible for their small size. We collected twenty or so of these tiny mussels, but we also found some larger ones—exceeding an inch in length—in the cracks in the rock.

16An hour and a half later we had collected approximately fifty specimens, and the rest of the day was free to spend watching the gulls, seals, and sea. I didn’t see any whales while I was on the rock, but we had seen porpoises on the boat ride out to the island. I was told by one of the crew members that minke whales can sometimes be seen from the rock—this testimony was supported by the sad, surprisingly small skull that was all that remained of a minke that had been beached on the island several years ago. When we left on Friday morning, there was a basking shark hanging out near the island. It wasn’t much to see—just a black fin—but knowing it was there was exciting. By Friday night we were back on Bowdoin’s campus.

This is just the first step for the next phase of the project. This week we will travel even farther north to Cobscook Bay in pursuit of more mussels. When we have all our specimens, we will label each one and record its buoyant weight. They will be subjected to the ocean acidification manipulations for two weeks, after which they will be weighed again and dissected for muscle tissue samples. The DNA libraries will then be sent away for next generation sequencing, at which point Sarah can finally begin her true analysis.

Jenna Watling, ’16
Jenna has a faculty-student research fellowship working with Dave Carlon and Sarah Kinsgton on her project: “The evolutionary response of populations of the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) populations to climate change”.

Christine Walder ’15 on Rockweed Harvesting

2014-07-07 10.29.59I am studying Rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) harvesting in the Gulf of Maine, both at the Coastal Studies Center in Harpswell, ME and on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy. Rockweed is harvested commercially for use in fertilizers, food additives, and some other minor industries; landings have been increasing in recent decades and there is a growing concern over how harvesting activities are affecting the ecosystem.

Rockweed beds are essentially the old-growth forest of the intertidal zone, much like the Amazon rainforest in South America. Young algae sporelings settle onto rocks only during rare low-flow conditions, and once attached grow very slowly (approximately 6-10 cm per year). For a plant that regularly reaches two meters in length, this means that the fronds alone are several decades old, while holdfasts have been shown to live for centuries.

Although rockweed beds may look like a nondescript slimy olive-green mass just waiting to sprain an ankle the second one sets foot on their slippery surface, it is far from the “weed” that its name suggests. Rockweed is tough and chemically well defended, making it unappetizing for the run-of-the-mill intertidal herbivore. It forms an important habitat for a variety of organisms: periwinkles, crab, dog whelks, amphipods, isopods, bryozoans, and nudibranchs are all found within its holdfasts and fronds, while shorebirds and Eider ducklings forage in it. Juvenile fish, many of which are commercially important, spend part of their life cycle in the rockweed. It acts as an important buffer against the stress of extreme temperature fluctuation, desiccation, and wave stress of the intertidal zone, and it is also important for cycling nutrients and energy through the ocean ecosystem. While A. nodosum plays many important roles within the ecosystem, it is still important to note that it is the competitively dominant seaweed of the intertidal zone and reduces other algal diversity (but few intertidal seaweeds have the same mature biomass and complexity levels of rockweed).

2014-07-07 10.25.42

Because of the complex role of Ascophyllum nodosum in the intertidal ecosystem, its harvest naturally begs the question—what is the ecological impact of cutting rockweed? My research is focused on answering this question in a general sense. I am using a BACI (Before, After, Control, Impact) experimental design where I have set up paired 2x2m plots. I survey both, cut one to the 16 inch minimum length required by the Maine DMR, then survey them again immediately following and at one-month intervals after harvest. Surveys involve noting plot characteristics (slope, substrate, vertical height, etc.), identifying all algal species present, and identifying and counting all other organisms in a 1 m2 quadrat placed in the center of each 2x2m plot.

In addition to this I am monitoring the regrowth of the Ascophyllum after it has been cut. I generally find a few staple organisms in each plot—Littorina spp.(periwinkles), Carcinus maenas (green crabs), Nucella lapillus(dog whelks), Semibalanus balanoides (barnacles), Mytilus edulis (blue mussels), amphipods and isopods (small crustaceans which look very much like insects) Fucus vesiculosus (another type of rockweed), Chondrus crispus (a red algae), and Lithothamnium (an encrusting pink algae). However, sometimes other creatures also are found in lower densities and add a pop of excitement to my day—nudibranchs (sea slugs) are my personal favorite, and I have also found sea stars, sea urchins, scale worms, and a rock gunnel.

My work at the Coastal Studies Center is part of a comparative study between Maine and Kent Island, located in the Bay of Fundy on the border between Maine and Canada. My experimental design is essentially the same at the two study sites, although I established study plots on Kent Island in 2013 and have been tracking them for a year at this point. My hope is to collect long-term data from Kent Island, and also to compare the effects of cutting Ascophyllum nodosum between to relatively different locations. Kent Island experiences 28-foot tides (as compared to the 9-foot tides in Harpswell), and the intertidal zone supports a very dense, mature rockweed bed that has never been harvested, while the rockweed at the Coastal Studies Center is much less prolific. Past studies looking at rockweed harvesting have drawn varied conclusions, and conducting a comparative study will help to determine whether some of these differences are due to site-specific variation.

2014-07-07 10.40.55I do not have any results for my work at the Coastal Studies Center as of yet, but the data from Kent Island indicates that the harvested plots have regained little of the length and biomass that was removed a year ago. A general reduction in most invertebrate abundances (amphipods, periwinkles and crabs being the most outstanding) that persists a year following harvest was observed. Algal biodiversity increases after a year, suggesting that removing the competitively dominant algae stimulates other algal growth. I plan to follow the Kent Island plots into September, and the Coastal Studies plots for as long as the weather permits (Maine winters being what they are, this might not be much later than September). My data will be used for a Senior Honors Project.

For a review of rockweed harvesting, see Seeley and Schlesinger (2012): Sustainable seaweed cutting? The rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) industry of Maine and the Maritime Provinces. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1249: 84-103.

My research has been supported by the Bowdoin Scientific Station Fellowship and the Rusack Coastal Studies Fellowship.

Project Advisors: Damon Gannon, PhD and Amy Johnson, PhD.

Student Research Symposium

The 2014 Coastal Studies Fellows and Faculty Members
The 2014 Coastal Studies Fellows and Faculty Members

After six weeks of conducting their own research projects, the Coastal Studies Center’s summer fellows were eager to share their research with each other and visiting audience members at the Coastal Studies Summer 2014 Research Symposium.

With research projects ranging from studies of green crabs eating habits to lobsters’ cardiac responses to specific peptides, the short presentations given by 15 students and 7 faculty members span 7 different academic departments, showcasing the varied nature of Coastal Studies fellowships.

Fellowships that support student research in the coastal sciences include the Rusack Coastal Studies Fellowship, the Doherty Coastal Studies Research Fellowship, the Freedman Summer Research Fellowship, and the NSF Faculty Student Research on Computational Sustainability. Research topics ranged from studies that use marine organisms as models for understanding fundamental biological processes – locomotion in sea stars, for instance, or cardiac neural control in lobsters – to investigations of how coastal organisms and ecosystems are responding to environmental shifts such as rising ocean temperature and acidity.

lobster (Illustration credit: Abby McBride)

In his introductory remarks, Coastal Studies Center director and Associate Professor of Biology David Carlon described not only the ecological changes that are taking place in the Gulf of Maine but also the changes in store for the Center and its on-site Marine Lab.

“The lab is growing already,” Carlon said, with new dry- and wet-lab spaces scheduled to open in time for classes this fall, not to mention the pending acquisition of a new research vessel that will join the R/V Laine at the Coastal Studies Center dock. In the works is a marine science semester targeted at juniors and seniors, planned for fall 2015.

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Associate Professor David Carlon presents

Following Carlon’s introduction, faculty members from Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Oceanographic Science, and Environmental Studies described their research and shared perspectives from their areas of expertise, while students supported by summer research fellowships reported on progress they’ve made so far and previewed their plans for the rest of the summer, opening up the floor for questions after each talk.

These students and faculty are making use of field sites throughout Maine and beyond, with a concentration of activity at the Coastal Studies Center itself, only twelve miles from Bowdoin’s campus – where they can take advantage not only of aquarium tanks and other laboratory facilities, but also the natural lab that is Harpswell Sound.

Coastal Studies Center 2014 Summer Research Symposium

The Coastal Studies Center is hosting a one day Research Symposium this Monday, July 14th. As in previous years, this meeting will be a friendly forum for students supported by summer fellowships to present an overview of their project, and their progress to date. New to this year, we are opening up the floor to postdocs and faculty who would like to tell us about their work in any aspect of marine or environmental science.

Shuttle

Shuttles will depart campus from the Druckenmiller loading dock at 8:00 AM. We expect shuttles will depart Coastal Studies by 3:30.

Presenters

Please download a copy of your presentation the Bowdoin scratch drive [microwave/scratch/COASTAL STUDIES PRESENTATION JULY 2014] by Monday morning at 6:00 AM. Please plan to upload by this time so we can be sure to load your presentation in time. You can also bring a back-up copy on a thumb drive if you wish. Let Rosie Armstrong know if you have trouble accessing this folder. 

Schedule

Time Speaker Topic
8:30 COFFEE
9:00 Dave Carlon, Director of the Coastal Studies Center Welcome and research remarks
9:15 Sarah Kingston, Doherty Marine Biology Postdoctoral Scholar “Genotype and phenotype in a changing ocean, how much is standing genetic variation influencing mussel populations’ reaction to ocean acidification?”
9:30 Christie Jewett ‘15
Doherty FellowshipAdvisor: Patsy Dickinson
“Does the presence of modulators alter the ability of the American lobster heart to generate a stable output pattern over a range of temperatures?”
9:45 Nathaniel Wheelwright, Professor of Biology “The effect of trait type and strength of selection on heritability and evolvability in an island bird population “
10:00 Michèle LaVigne, Assistant Professor of Earth & Oceanographic Science “Acidification Research on Maine Clam Flats: A Partnership between Bowdoin and The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust.”
10:15-10:30 Lloyd Anderson’16, & Bailey Moritz ‘16
Rusack Fellowships
Advisor: Michele LaVigne
“An Assessment of pH and the Effects of Ocean Acidification in Phippsburg Clam Flats”
10:30 Jack Mitchell ‘17(Remote presentation)
NSF/Computational Sustainability
“Analysis of long-term trends in DNA Barcoding sets from tropical marine zooplankton from the Hawaiian Islands”
10:45-11:15 COFFEE BREAK & GROUP PICTURE
11:15 Xuan (Circle) Qu ‘17
Doherty Fellowship
Advisor: Patsy Dickinson
“Pyrokinin peptides’ effect on the stomatogastric nervous system in the American lobster, Homarus americanus”
11:30 Tricia Hartley ‘15
Doherty Fellowship
Advisor: Patsy Dickinson
“Does the neuropeptide GYS modulate stretch feedback pathways in the lobster cardiac neuromuscular system?
11:45 Sophie Janes ‘16
Doherty Fellowship
Advisor: Patsy Dickinson
“Does nitric oxide alter the modulation of the cardiac system in the American lobster, Homarus americanus, via a peptide (GYSDRNYLRFamide)”
12:00 Amy Johnson, Professor of Marine Biology “What puts the bounce in the gait of the seastar Protoreaster nodosus.
12:15-12:30 Samantha Garvey ’16, & Brendan Soane ’16, Doherty Fellowships
Advisor: Amy Johnson
“How does tube foot coordination generate a novel bouncing gait in the Indo-Pacific seastar Protoreaster nodosus and the North Atlantic seastar Asterias rubens?”
12:30-1:30 LUNCH
1:30 Aidan Short ‘15
Doherty Fellowship
Advisor: Dave Carlon
“What’s for dinner? A molecular analysis of the feeding habits of the green crab Carcinus maenus in Harpswell Sound”
1:45 Sabine Berzins’16, Rusack Fellowship
Advisor: John Lichter
“Vulnerability of eelgrass (Zostera marina) to green crab (Carcinus maenas) invasion”.
2:00 Nora Hefner ‘16
Cook Fellowship
“GIS Analysis of the Historical Ecology of Gulf of Maine Cod Fisheries”
2:15 John Lichter, Professor of Biology & Environmental Studies Informal research remarks
2:30 Anna Hall ’15,
Freedman Fellowship
Advisor: Phil Camill
“Investigating the effects of climatic change on peatland C accumulation and fire dynamics in coastal Labrador, Canada”
2:45 Emily Tucker ’15 Hughes Fellowship
Advisor: Phil Camill
“Effects of Climate Fluctuations in Labrador on Indigenous Populations, 8,000 BCE- present”
3:00 Amanda Howard’15
Doherty Fellowship
Advisor: Beth Stemmler
“Localization and post-translational modifications of crustacean AST-C peptides: a mass spectrometric study using the lobster, Homarus americanus”
3:15 Beth Stemmler, Professor of Chemistry Informal research remarks

Bowdoin Marine Science Semester Fall 2014

In the Fall of 2014 we will run a pilot program for the Marine Science Semester, offering two courses at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory and Coastal Studies Center. Transportation will be provided.

Each of course counts as an elective in the Biology Major. In addition, Biology 2330 will count as a Group 3 core course. Pre-requisites: Bio 1101, Bio 1102 or 1109, and one semester of Math.

Course to be taught Fall 2014

Dimensions of Marine Biodiversity – Biology 3301. Dave Carlon.
Class: Tuesday 2:30-3:55, Lab: Thursday 1:00-3:55
This inquiry driven field course examines the significance of marine biodiversity through the lenses of systematics, genetics, and functional ecology. Each semester we consider major contemporary scientific problems by confronting student-generated hypotheses with data sets from multiple dimensions of biodiversity in coastal Maine. For Fall 2014, we will examine the impacts of invasive species on native shellfish populations, build a longitudinal data set of coastal plankton, and investigate potential impacts of coastal aquaculture on marine ecosystem functioning. Taught at the Coastal Studies Center, Orr’s Island (Same as ES 2234).

Marine Molecular Ecology & Evolution – Biology 2330.  Sarah Kingston.
Class: Tuesday 1:00-2:25, Lab: Friday 1:30-4:30
Features the application of molecular data to ecological and evolutionary questions in coastal and marine contexts. Hands on work will introduce students to field sampling, data generation, and analysis of molecular data sets (using both Sanger-based and Next Generation Sequencing technologies). The course will emphasize robust sampling design in both ecological and population genetic contexts. Theoretical foci will include evolutionary and population genetic concepts and analytical tools: tenets of Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium, Wright-Fisher model, the coalescent, evolutionary processes and signatures in the genome, speciation: maintenance and breakdown of reproductive isolation, spatial patterns and phylogeography, selection and linking genotype to phenotype. Lectures, discussions, data analysis, and computer-based simulations will demonstrate the relevant theoretical principles of population genetics and phylogenetics. A class project will begin a long-term sampling program that uses molecular tools to understand temporal and spatial change in the ocean. During the course of the project, students will learn to apply bioinformatic analyses to population-level genomic data.  Taught at the Coastal Studies Center, on Orr’s Island. (Same as ES 2233)

Questions? Contact Dave Carlon or Sarah Kingston

Dave Carlon, Associate Professor of Biology, and Director of the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory
232 Druckenmiller Hall
Phone: 207-798-4364, e-mail: dcarlon@bowdoin.edu

Sarah Kingston, Doherty Marine biology Postdoctoral Scholar
109 Bannister Hall
E-mail: skingsto@bowdoin.edu

Message from the Director

 

Dave Carlon, Director of the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory
Dave Carlon, Director of the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory

The Bowdoin Marine Laboratory  is the scientific component of Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center. Our amazing site includes 118 acres of coastal spruce-pine forest and 8 miles of coastline. Our accessible location, and diversity of natural habitats opens up a wide range of marine, estuarine, and terrestrial research and teaching possibilities.

As the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory’s new Director, my job is to facilitate an expansion of research and teaching programs. Our growth will require new infrastructure and instrumentation. I am working with the Bowdoin administration, faculty, and staff on a strategic plan that includes a new “dry” teaching and research building, new housing, and new instrumentation to monitor climate change. This year we will begin work increasing the capabilities of our wet lab and building our small boat program. Our short history includes outstanding research from our Bowdoin community and friends from other institutions (see our list of publications). I would like to build on this intellectual platform and grow the breadth and depth of the research and teaching activities anchored by the BML by recruiting new researchers and new students from Bowdoin and beyond.

The Bowdoin Marine Laboratory has an outstanding geographical and ecological position for understanding the biological impacts of climate change. We are located within the Gulf of Maine ecosystem, a historically cold and productive body of water that has undergone a recent warming. Our coastal location and 8 km shoreline on Harpswell Sound, provide immediate access to tidally driven coastal and estuarine habitats, predicted to uniquely respond to increased warming due to high productivity and close linkages with terrestrial systems. Speaking of land, our peninsula on Orr’s Island includes 118 acres of upland forest, and I am strongly encouraging new courses and research that can capitalize on the terrestrial side of the Coastal Studies Center on Orr’s Island.

Come visit us on Orr’s Island to tour the facilities and see our stunning linkages between land and sea.

Dave Carlon, Director of the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory dcarlon@bowdoin.edu