Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stuck on You


I've just come back from a marine zoology camp, where I've spent a week working on a group project about competition between two species of limpet. This didn't mean we were racing the limpets. We were looking at competition for a common food source - in this case, delicious microscopic algae that grows on rocks.

Below is a picture of a boulder covered in limpets. You can see why I didn't end up taking many photos on camp.



Our project involved lifting limpets off the rocks with a bread knife and relocating them to produce areas of higher than natural population densities. Then we waited to see if they would exhibit a behavioural response to being in a high density area. Having a shell is a bit like wearing a burqa - it makes it difficult for others to read one's non verbal cues - but I'm sure that the limpets' little faces were contorted with effort as some of them practically galloped away from the higher density areas at speeds of more than 4 cm per hour.

You can think of the intertidal rock pools as being like a great savannah full of grazing beasts. The herbivorous limpets are the gazelles and antelope. The predatory whelks, who drill through the limpets' shells and suck their flesh out, are like the big cats. Check out this vicious killer, Dicathais orbita:


And this glorious creature would be the elephant:


Elephant Snails (Scutus antipodes) are the giants of the intertidal rock pools. Their distinctively shaped shell is usually hidden under thin flaps of skin. When they feel threatened, the skin retracts and the shell is revealed. Having so much juicy flesh can be a liability, so these snails are typically found under ledges at the edge of pools. They come out to graze at night, when there are fewer predators around.

This Elephant Snail was part of a group which we were responsible for relocating at the end of the camp. They had been used in another group's project, in which they were tested for their responses to both a native and an invasive predatory starfish. It was a bit like the witness relocation program. Maybe, in time, these Elephant Snails will be able to come to terms with horrors they witnessed in our laboratory tanks.

37 comments:

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will said...

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韋于倫成 said...

When everything is coming your way, you are in the wrong lane. ....................................................

退 said...

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展姍展姍 said...

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jackveronic said...

A good medicine tastes bitter. .........................................

張孟勳 said...

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DanaL文廷_Moler文廷 said...

被人揭下面具是一種失敗,自己揭下面具卻是種勝利。..................................................................

江婷 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。......................................................................

江婷 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。.................................................................

登山登山 said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德............................................................

于庭 said...

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吳庭 said...

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黃靜文黃靜文 said...

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珍盈洪 said...

It is no use crying over spilt milk.......................................................................

姿弘綸穎 said...

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.............................................................

建邱勳 said...

人們不缺少力量,他們缺少意志。..................................................

黃蔡晏民柏盈 said...

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廷淑君淑君伸 said...

若有人問你成功時會不會記得他 試問若你失敗時他會不會記得你......................................................................

孫邦柔 said...

我們必須先有哭泣,才有歡笑;也必須先感到人生的悲哀,然後才感到人生的快樂。................................................................

翊翊翊翊張瑜翊翊翊 said...

及時行樂-快樂不需要理由............................................................

佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...

這麼優的部落格,不踩一下不開心..................................................................