Gavin Hiltz

My name is Gavin Hiltz, I am from Pictou, Nova Scotia. I am going into my 2nd year at StFX pursuing an honours degree in Biology with a minor in Mathematics. This is my first summer assisting research on the lobster foraging project with Wyeth lab. Eager for a career in academia, I am very engaged and motivated to this project, and hope to continue to work with Wyeth lab throughout my undergrad. I love all things biology; marine biology, ecology and mycology being of greatest interest to me. Always willing to try new experiences and learn as much as I can with everything I do, I am very excited to see what the future holds with Dr. Wyeth and beyond!

Publication!

Fig. 3

This one was a real team effort, with six different students contributing collectively to data collection, analysis and or manuscript prep. So, congrats to Amelia, Katerina, Ella, Michelle, Alexa, and Emmerson! The findings were really straight forward. We worked with We’koqma’q First Nation aquaculture, and tested the effectiveness of a various commercial options for non-toxic antifouling on aquaculture netting against the crazy mussel fouling that occurs at their site. We found little or no performance enhancement over standard (control) nylon netting. Done.

MacKenzie, A.F., Basque, K., Maltby, E.A., Hodgson, M., Nicholson, A., Wilson, E., Stuart, R., Smith-Palmer, T., and Wyeth, R.C. 2021. Effectiveness of several commercial non-toxic antifouling technologies for aquaculture netting at reducing mussel biofouling. Aquaculture 543: 736968. doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2021.736968.

Congratulations Areej!

Areej Alansari has defended her thesis, studying the navigation behaviour of the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. The short version is that she discovered that the snails can cope with quite a variety of flow conditions while seeking out odour sources. It’s taken a bit longer than planned because of hiccups from foreign relations and pandemic, but a fantastic achievement. Thanks also to commiteee members Jim Williams and John McKenna, and external examiner Tim Rawlings.

Way to go Areej!

Max Spiess

My name is Max Spiess, I am from Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia. I am going into my 3rd year at StFX University looking to complete an Honours degree in biology with a minor in Chemistry. I love spending time near or on the ocean, as well as playing sports and training at the gym. This summer I am getting my first experience with research as part of the Wyeth Lab’s Lobster Foraging group. I am very grateful for this opportunity to be involved in research and I am very excited to see how it goes as I love groupwork and I love biology! Getting this research experience is very beneficial to me as it opens up a lot of career opportunities for my future, and it allows me to further my biological knowledge.

Makayla Butorac

My name is Makayla Butorac and I am from Peterborough, Ontario. I am going into my third year at St.F.X. University, with hopes of graduating with a Joint Honours in Biology and Psychology. I love spending time in nature and have a great passion for animals. This summer I will be working with the Wyeth Lab and exploring the behaviour of the freshwater snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. I am excited for this opportunity because it beautifully combines my interests of biology and psychology. It will also show me what research is like and provide me with further insight into potential career options I would enjoy. 

Kylie Curnew

My name is Kylie Curnew and I am from Hughes Brook, Newfoundland. I am going into my second year at StFX where I am studying health. I enjoy being outside, around animals and collecting plants. I am working with the Wyeth Lab in the biofouling project this summer. This is my first experience in research but I am a curious person with a passion for biology and I am so excited to get involved! 

Remote Research Resumes

For the 2nd year in a row, our first full lab meeting of the summer research season had to happen remotely. Still, it was fun just to introduce the new students to the full group (all 17 of us, this year!). Hopefully our 3rd wave will be short like our first two, we we can shift rapidly to data collection – big plans and new ideas for the lobster foraging, marine biofouling, and gastropod neuroethology and neuroanatomy projects!

Publication!

Fully eight years less a month or two, since we did the 3 weeks of data collection on this project! Special thanks are needed for David McRae, skipper of the Kuroshio, for providing fantastic support of the field work, Louis Gosselin who, after I presented our stalled work at BMSC, suggested the paired analysis that solved so many problems, and alumnus Theora Holden who did the vast bulk of the slug tracking work.

The end result? Evidence that strong rare-earth magnets cause more erratic crawling paths as Tritonia exsulans move towards the magnets (yes the name T. diomedea is no more). The effect of the magnets led us to a new hypothesis for how the slugs (and maybe other animals) use a magnetic sense. For animals with no or poor spatial references because of either their environment or constraints of their sensory system, they may use the Earth’s magnetic field to simply help them move in straight lines – keeping movements efficient by avoiding unnecessary meandering.

Wyeth, R.C., Holden, T., Jalala, H., and Murray, J.A. 2021. Rare-Earth Magnets Influence Movement Patterns of the Magnetically Sensitive Nudibranch Tritonia exsulans in Its Natural Habitat. The Biological Bulletin: 000–000. doi:10.1086/713663.

Grace Walls

Grace Walls is a first year PhD student in the St. FX and Memorial University joint program looking to unravel the mysteries of lobster foraging ecology. She completed her B.S. in Biology with minors in Natural Resource Conservation and Psychology from University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2013. From there she developed 6 different marine education programs for different NPOs and school systems of her native Cape Cod. Drawn to research, she went aboard the NOAAS Henry B. Bigelow which started off the adventure of hundreds of sea days spent on both fishing and research vessels around the globe. The majority of her time was spent with the Alaskan fishing fleets based the Aleutian Islands, sailing in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. Migrating to the Baltic Sea for her masters in Biological Oceanography her thesis monitored the effects of changing environmental conditions on plastic ingestion and feeding ecology of benthopelagic fish. Now switching gears once again and settling benthically to work with invertebrates, Grace is excited to see where the next 4 years will bring her.