Nature Blog Network

Monday, March 30, 2009


Night diving, squid and reproduction...
what a combination! Be sure to read Miriam's writeup for all the details.

These two dives were 21 days apart, one from early March the other late March, notice any differences?

From the Night of March 7th:

Squid Spawning Grounds Off La Jolla from Gary Hawkins on Vimeo.

From the night of March 28th:

Squidilicious from Gary Hawkins on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tools for Spineless Research: FoxyProxy

Kevin has brought you more than one great resource for research, including the awesome Zotero extension for Firefox. I wanted to mention another one here that I use daily on my laptop – FoxyProxy.

FoxyProxy allows you to switch between proxies on the fly or, for me more importantly, switch proxies based on the url being visited. I keep four proxies configured for different groups of sites. I have the university proxy which is used for a number of science journal publishing sites (Elsevier, Blackwell etc.), my BBC proxy for watching BBC UK shows, my web hosting proxy I use sometimes for downloads, and finally the default "proxy" which is a straight connection to the net.

The real beauty of this setup is that it is automatic. I don't have to remain connected to the university proxy (which can be a bit slow at times) but when I stumble across another paper I want to read that is hosted at one of the sites in the proxy, it automatically logs me into the proxy and uses the proxy connection to grab the paper, even though the other tabs may be connected to my BBC proxy or directly connected. Unfortunately it doesn't do anything to help the inevitable case of needing/wanting a paper that your institution doesn't subscribe to, but it makes accessing the rest painlessly easy wherever I am.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Get an MS working with Freshwater Crabs

From the Crustacean mailing list:

Graduate Teaching Assistantship and M.S. Degree in Biology
Freshwater Crab Biodiversity and Conservation

There is an opening beginning in Fall semester 2009 for a 2-year position as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Applicants must hold a BS/BA degree in Biology or a relevant subject, and be willing to pursue a Masters Degree in Biology at Northern Michigan University (NMU), in Marquette, Michigan. The student will work on a thesis research project in the area of Afrotropical freshwater crab biodiversity and conservation (Crustacea: Decapoda: Potamoidea). The student will take all course work at NMU, and will be based in the laboratory of Dr. Neil Cumberlidge.

For more details:

Contact: Dr. Neil Cumberlidge, Department of Biology, Northern Michigan University, 1401 Presque Isle Avenue, Marquette, Michigan 49855-5341, USA; (906)227-2215 (voice); (906)227-1063 (fax); e-mail:;

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mimic this

If you've followed this space at all, you probably are aware of my fascination with cephalopod camouflage and behavior, so it should come as no surprise that this weeks video would be the Indonesian Mimic Octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Zooplankton Researcher

Zooplankton Eoclogists seem to be in demand this year!
First was the Zooplankton Postdoc at VIMS, now comes a research position for a Zooplankton Ecologist or Biological Oceanographer with an M.S. degree (or a B.S. and good experience!) at the University of Washington in the lab of Dr. Julie Keister.
The highlights of the position announcement include:

Zooplankton Ecologist / Biological Oceanographer
University of Washington, School of Oceanography

A full-time position is available for an energetic, motivated individual to focus on the ecology of mesozooplankton in Puget Sound and the Washington coastal upwelling zone. Sampling at sea on a regular basis from small and large research vessels, microscope enumeration of preserved and live zooplankton samples and culturing and experimental measurement of vital rates and effects of ocean acidification on living zooplankton.

Duties will include:
  • Microscope identification of preserved zooplankton samples
  • Collection of zooplankton samples from the field/at sea
  • Culturing plankton and conducting multi-week laboratory experiments on zooplankton
  • Assisting with data analysis, writing, and presentation of results

Minimum qualifications:
Equivalent education/experience will substitute for all minimum qualifications
  • M.S. preferred (will accept B.S./B.A. with equivalent experience) in a marine science such as oceanography, zoology, fisheries.
  • Experience with microscope identification of organisms
  • Experience with sea-going research/sampling
  • Flexibility and availability to be at sea or in the field for 4+ weeks per year
  • U.S. citizenship, valid driver license, ability to obtain a passport, and ability to meet NOAA’s civilian seagoing medical requirements.

Desired qualifications:
  • Experience with identification and enumeration of pelagic marine zooplankton to species and developmental stage (especially copepods and other crustaceans).
  • Experience culturing or carrying out experiments on living zooplankton.
  • Experience with field collection of samples using a variety of plankton nets or MOCNESS (depth-stratified) collection system.
  • Experience writing and publishing research results.
  • Strong statistical and quantitative skills.
  • Experience with databases (especially of Microsoft Access) and MatLab or other programming language.

The complete announcement, with the application process, is at the University of Washington's HR pages, job number 53143.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bamboo Hunting

I know, it's an older video, but I don't ever get tired of seeing deep sea corals, sue me!

This is the video of a new species of Isidella bamboo coral, Isidella tentaculum (thank Peter!), filmed by the Alvin submersible on Gulf of Alaska Seamount peaks 700-1200 m deep in the Northeast Pacific 2004.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Name that Decapod!

Going once!
Going twice!
Gone to the friend of the spineless in the red plaid pants!
So now sir, what are we going to call this fine new decapod species?

That could be you – ok, without the red plaid pants I hope!, but still...

A new species of shrimp was recently described from the waters off south western Australia. Ph.D. student Anna McCallum is auctioning off the rights to name the new species of shrimp from the Lebbeus genus.

The auction will occur on Ebay beginning at 9:00 a.m. on March 22 and end at 9:00 a.m. on March 31, 2009 Australian Eastern Standard time, which if I'm thinking straight today means from 6pm on the 21st to 6pm on the 30th US Eastern Standard (3pm to 3pm for Pacific). Proceeds from the auction will go to The Australian Marine Conservation Society, who is sponsoring the event at Ebay, to help protect the same area that the shrimp was found – south western Australia.

In addition to the right to provide the species name, the winer will also receive a signed painting of the new species by science illustrator and artist Mali Moir.

While I like this particular auction,I have mixed feelings about the practice in the general case. I wonder what everyone thinks about auctioning off naming rights (taxonomists especially feel free to chime in!).

Zooplankton Postdoc

A new Zooplankton post-doc position was announced recently at VIMS in Dr. Deborah Steinberg's lab. It is for a NSF and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded project that lasts 2 years with annual renewals beginning this summer.

The project is investigating the impacts of climate change on the zooplankton community structure and biogeochemical cycling in the west Antarctic Peninsula. They need someone who can work well on cruises with expertise in zooplankton ecology and basic knowledge of zooplankton taxonomy. You'll get to do two cruises to the western Antarctic Peninsula, one in 2010 and one in 2011 – austral summer for both cruises of course – as well as work with an autonomous glider for acoustic measurement of zooplankton distribution.

The initial application reviews will begin on April 30th. Full details are available in the original announcement.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Octo-Box Rocks!

It's an octopus, it's a box, it's an Octo-box!

Jeff Ives, the New England Aquarium's resident Firend of the Invertebrates, brings us a wonderful sequence of their Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) having a little dinner. Check out the entire sequence of photos posted at the New England Aquarium's Giant Ocean Tank Blog.

A great demonstration of the intelligence and determination of the cephalopods.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday Movie: Cuttlefish Hunting

This one made the twitter rounds with tweets from Jason and KaylinQ. Excellent hunting behavior captured as it hunts shrimp inside sponges and the surrounding algae. Of course I'm mesmerized by the color and texture changes as it goes from hunting to capture to post capture. The concentric orange and white circles in the "white square" position of Roger Hanlon's experiments and the orange posterior triangle. The complex patterns that emerge at the moment of capture an immediately after are very cool as well. Amazing animals, these king of the molluscs.

Circus of the Spineless #36 Is Up!

Ed, the keeper of the Invertebrate Diaries, has the 36th edition of the Circus of the Spineless up! Head over there straight away for all your boneless entertainment.