“Robomussels” in the New York Times

Robomussel in mussel bed at Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, CA.

Robomussel in a mussel bed at Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, CA.

For several years, starting first at UC Santa Barbara around 1999/2000, and then in the mid 2000’s and early teens at Hopkins Marine Station, I would spend one or two low tides per year going out to the seashore and gluing fake plastic mussels into the middle of real mussel beds (as shown above). These ‘robomussels’ were originally created by Brian Helmuth (now of Northeastern University), … Continue Reading

rtide: a R package for predicting tide heights (US locations only currently)

Joe Thorley at Poisson Consulting has released a new R package, rtide, (on which I am listed as a co-author) that provides the ability to predict future (and past) tide heights for 637 different tide stations in the United States and associated territories. The underlying data, consisting of tide harmonic constituents, are collected and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The author of the definitive open source tide prediction software, XTide, collates those harmonic data into a usable format, and we have harvested the data to create the … Continue Reading

My work as a snail whisperer and professional killjoy

Littorina littorea from Quoddy Head, Maine. Photo by me.

Littorina littorea periwinkle snails from Quoddy Head, Maine. Photo by me.

The New York Times online Science section published a short piece earlier this month by Joanna Klein about humming to periwinkles.

Joanna contacted me for some background on this story, which has a simple premise:
People who grew up in coastal New England know this trick: To coax a periwinkle snail out of its shell, hum to it.
This was news to me, but also sounded crazy enough that there might … Continue Reading

Tidal datums and shifting baselines

I recently dredged up an old poster on tide heights and tidal datums that several of us put together back in graduate school and presented at the Western Society of Naturalists meeting in either 2003 or 2004. This was a hot topic (for 5 or so people) at the time, since the national tidal datums for the United States had all just been updated.

Click for the pdf copy of the poster

Click for the pdf copy of the poster

This poster discusses how the tidal datum, i.e. the location … Continue Reading

Open Wave Height Logger revision C

The Open Wave Height Logger (OWHL) project has reached another minor milestone with the release of a new hardware revision, RevC.

This is a redesign of the three printed circuit boards, breaking physical compatibility with the older revisions, but it maintains software compatibility with the existing OWHL code (hardware designs and code available at the GitHub repository: https://github.com/millerlp/OWHL). The goal was to make the hardware a bit easier to assemble, and make certain parts (the micro SD card) easier to reach. All of the tiny surface mount components, save a few, are now on a single side of each … Continue Reading

Our new paper on limpets grazing microscopic algae

Lottia limpets sitting on an experimental plate in the intertidal zone.

Lottia limpets sitting on an experimental plate in the intertidal zone.

We recently had a new paper come out in Marine Ecology Progress Series, titled Quantifying the top-down effects of grazers on a rocky shore: selective grazing and the potential for competition (open access link at MEPS)  (permanent doi link).

This project involved putting a series of round aluminum plates out in the high intertidal zone at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA, and allowing natural microalgae … Continue Reading

Things you see with a camera trap

I had the time lapse camera described in this post set out in the rocky intertidal zone in Monterey. Late one afternoon it caught these images of a ground squirrel venturing down into the mussel zone and picking small mussels (Mytilus californianus) off the rocks and eating them. If you replay the video a few times you’ll see a couple of the mussels on the edge of the bed disappear as the squirrel pulls them off and opens them to eat the insides.

Time lapse camera using ArduCAM

My time lapse camera board.

My time lapse camera board.

Design files and code for this project can be found here: https://github.com/millerlp/Time_lapse_arducam

The goal of this project was to build a cheap and power-efficient time lapse camera to monitor some of my experiments in the field. The camera would capture an JPEG image every 30 seconds and write it to a micro SD card, and be able to run off of AA batteries for a day or two at least. To accomplish this, I build an Arduino-like controller board that … Continue Reading

Arduino compile error: the filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect

GetFileAttributesEx D:\Arduino\libraries\SdFat/SdInfo.h
D:\Arduino\libraries\SdFat/SdSpi.h: The filename, directory name,
or volume label syntax is incorrect.
The error message above started cropping up shortly after I upgraded to Arduino 1.6.8 on Windows 7 x64. The cause seems to be due to some folder becoming locked in the Arduino compile pathway. One solution seems to be to close the Arduino software, restart it, and attempt to compile again. The program will compile ONCE, and then lock up and fail on a second compile attempt.

This Arduino forum thread recounts the same error: https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=366757.0

Another workaround seems to be switching the board … Continue Reading

Is live-tweeting meetings losing steam? #scicomm

As I write this in early 2016, sitting in the armpit of Silicon Valley (San Jose is, undeniably based on geography, the armpit of the south San Francisco Bay), we are beginning to witness the first signs of a contraction of the exuberant venture capital markets that have fueled utterly silly tech startup company valuations for the past few years. Twitter is one of the earlier startup darlings that has managed to decline in terms of share price as user base growth slows.

Now I’m beginning to wonder if we’re seeing a similar stagnation in adoption of Twitter as a … Continue Reading

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