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Environmental Tolerance of Larvae

Figure from ​Collin and Chan 2016, showing the susceptibility of fertilization, cleavage and blastula formation are impacted by elevated temperature.

Embryos and developing larvae are thought to be more sensitive to environmental conditions than adults. Therefore, if we are to understand how climate change will impact marine invertebrates we need to understand how their embryos and larvae respond to predicted environmental changes. We experimentally challenge larvae and embryos with different temperatures, salinities and oxygen concentrations to understand how these conditions impact growth and survival. We use natural variation in environmental conditions to understand how environmental conditions influence the distribution of larvae in the wild. Read press release.

Documenting Tropical Biodiversity

We use new approaches to document tropical marine biodiversity. By photo-documenting and DNA barcoding invertebrate larvae collected from the plankton we are able to generate independent estimates of biodiversity. This is particularly useful for species that live in habitats that are difficult to sample. Read story.

Evolutionary Transitions in Development

A biological rule called Dollo’s Law posits that evolutionary transitions that involve the loss of features are irreversible. Although this appears to be true in general, some interesting exceptions occur. In each major group of invertebrates some species have lost this larval stage, developing directly from large yolky eggs to juveniles, which crawl away from the protective egg capsules. Following Dollo’s Law this loss was thought to be irreversible, but we have recently discovered some exceptions. We study the loss and the unusual regained larvae, trying to understand these evolutionary transitions. Read press release.

​Understanding Sex Change

Marine gastropods use diverse strategies to reproduce. We take an experimental approach to understand why species of slipper snails change sex. The age, size and social environment all impact when these snails change from male to female. Read press release.

Bocas-ARTS: Easily accessible taxonomic information

​Taxonomy — the science of finding, describing and naming organisms — is vital to all biological research, especially to understanding and conserving biodiversity. The shortage of taxonomic expertise relative to the large number of undescribed or undiscovered taxa (the so-called taxonomic impediment) is one of the current challenges facing researchers engaged in identifying, classifying and conserving the world’s biodiversity. Visit website.