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Dynamic measurements of black oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) predation on mussels (Mytilus californianus)

A black oystercatcher foraging in central California

Myself and co-author Wes Dowd have a new paper out in the journal Invertebrate Biology detailing a set of observations we made of black oystercatchers attacking a set of mussels that were part of an experiment we were running. The mussels in our experiment were wearing a set of sensors, including an internal temperature sensor, a valve gape sensor (aka a ‘valvometer’), and a 3-axis accelerometer and magnetometer sensor. These mussels were part of a bed of live mussels (image below) … Continue Reading

Preparing for the upcoming field season

Production is ramping up for the imminent start of two field experiments in Alaska and California. In both cases we’ll be manipulating tide pool temperatures using heaters to slightly raise water temperatures during low tide. To get ready for that, I’ve been working on soldering and assembling the custom circuit boards that will handle the heating control.

Tide pool heater circuit boards

These boards house a ATmega328P microcontroller and DS3231M real time clock, and they are programmed with an algorithm to calculate tide height for a … Continue Reading

More field sampling in Sitka

The process of sampling all of our experimental tide pools in Sitka is slowly coming to an end for this trip. We carried out several rounds of water sampling for water chemistry during the daytime and nighttime, along with surveying diversity in the pools and prepping the pools for the future summer experiment.

Taking water samples for the pH and alkalinity measurements that go into assessing acidification in the pools is incredibly tedious, since it requires a certain amount of care. We draw water up from the bottom of the pool, then slowly distribute … Continue Reading

Alaska in January

In collaboration with Cascade Sorte and Matt Bracken from UC Irvine, and Kristy Kroeker from UC Santa Cruz, we are currently up in Sitka Alaska carrying out seasonal sampling for our NSF-funded project “Collaborative Research: Effects of Multiple Aspects of Climate Change on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning”. Much of the current trip’s work centers around sampling water chemistry conditions in our focal tide pools and surveying what’s living in them (algae and invertebrates).

Water sampling is hard when the tidepool is frozen.

We have a … Continue Reading

Tidepool nutrient cycling manipulations

Summer number 1 of our collaborative research project with the Bracken and Martiny lab groups at UC Irvine is proceeding nicely. Our teams have been manipulating mobile grazers, such as limpets, littorine snails, chitons, and hermit crabs, in experimental tidepools in order to measure the growth responses of the photosynthetic algae in these pools (among many other variables we are measuring). Those algae need to take up nutrients from the tidepool water in order to grow, including nitrogen products, which the herbivore grazers just happen to be recycling through their urine as they eat other algae in the pools.

[caption id=”attachment_2440″ … Continue Reading

We’ve moved

As of August 2018, I relocated my lab, and everything else in my life, to San Diego. I have joined the San Diego State University Biology Department as an Assistant Professor.

If you are a student interested in undergraduate, masters, or Ph.D. research opportunities in marine ecophysiology, biomechanics, and climate change impacts on rocky shore and nearshore communities, feel free to contact me at my school email (the email is real hard to figure out, so good luck).

For non-academic inquiries about content on this site, please continue to use the … Continue Reading

Field work at Bodega Marine Lab

Last week was the kickoff a new project looking at diversity and productivity effects of nutrient and temperature alterations in high intertidal pools. This work is being done in collaboration with Matt Bracken’s Marine Biodiversity Lab group at UC Irvine. Pictured below are Dylan Projansky from SJSU, Matt Bracken (center), Genevieve Bernatchez (UCI), and Samuel Bedgood (UCI, bending over reading the YSI DO sensor).

Evening sampling in the high intertidal zone.

Conference live tweets revisited

Having just returned from the 100th Anniversary meeting of the Western Society of Naturalists meeting in Monterey, it seems like a fine time to generate some new summary data of trends in live-tweeting meetings. I originally addressed this some time last year in this original post: https://lukemiller.org/index.php/2016/01/is-live-tweeting-meetings-losing-steam-scicomm/. Since that time, there’s been new iterations of the WSN meeting and the Ecological Society of America meeting. I’ve scraped the Twitter archives for the relevant meeting hashtags (#wsn100 and #esa2016), and removed all retweets, so that only ‘original’ tweets are tallied here.
WSN 2016
Shown first below are the meeting totals for the … Continue Reading

Student poster presentation at WSN 2016

It was the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Western Society of Naturalists this year. While WSN was originally a society with fairly broad interests in the terrestrial and marine realms, in the last few decades it has very much become focused on marine habitats, with the occasional estuarine or terrestrial presentations popping up. I try to make a point of going every year, since it’s a great way to catch up on marine science along the west coast of North America (and elsewhere on the globe), and it’s a very student-focused meeting, with at least half of the … Continue Reading

“Robomussels” in the New York Times

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 … Continue Reading