We returned to active research in late June. Since then, progress has been truly outstanding. Five students (Rachel Webber, Megan Fraser, Lia Blackett, Laura Brady, Michelle Hodgson), working with 15 local have harvesters have collected 2500+ hours of underwater video of lobster foraging behaviours. Three students (Katherine Purvis [tech, actually!], Lexie Trevors, Allanique Hunter) have collected 4000+ images of biofouling for two studies, one a collaboration with Graphite Innovation & Technologies, and the other a new test of how ultraviolet light can be use for antifouling. Other fantastic work: hundreds of electrophysiological recordings of snail chemosensory responses (Carmen Ucciferri), neuroanatomy of both Lymnaea and Tritonia (Donica Larade), plus plenty of progress on manuscripts (Emmerson Wilson) and analysis and writing for MSc theses (Ella Maltby, Areej Alansari). Not much to say other than handing out massive kudos to the awesome group working in the Wyeth Lab this summer! Also, a special thanks to our Research Group at StFX for helping us get restarted, and our local community for keeping the pandemic situation manageable in our neighborhood.
A new first for the Wyeth Lab: a publication as a direct consequence of a conversation at the Canadian Society of Zoologists meeting. We (Shelby Brown [Wyeth Lab alumn] and RCW) have helped out Laura Eliuk and Jillian Detwiler with some video analysis of snail behaviours. The primary result: some interesting changes in how attractive one species of snail is to another species of snail, depending on whether the first snail is infected by a parasite that is also a parasite of the second snail! As you might expect: the parasite seems to make the first host more attractive to the second host. The implication, thus, is host-behaviour modification via a chemical cue! Looking forward to more productive work in this collaboration!
Eliuk, L.K., Brown, S., Wyeth, R.C., and Detwiler, J.T. 2020. Parasite-modified behaviour in non-trophic transmission: trematode parasitism increases the attraction between snail intermediate hosts. Can. J. Zool.: 417–424. doi:10.1139/cjz-2019-0251.
Great work from everyone in the lab last week. Methods and more presentations, but not using PowerPoint. Instead, we used Zoom + Google Jamboard (because whiteboard options in Zoom and Teams had limitations). Mock deployments, presenting graphs or activity heat maps, and nervous system structure were all covered. It was a great way to delve deeper into our advance prep for lab and field work (and also thesis defenses). Forcing the use of just a few images and some simple drawing helps foster a bit more of a story-telling approach, and was great at helping to spot gaps in planning.
It’s that time of year again, when we both welcome new faces into the WyethLab and our field research projects really ramp up. Although the pandemic restrictions mean we haven’t yet been able to actually do any lab or field work yet, lots of preparation is still happening as everyone works remotely. This summer, 14 lab members are making great use of MS Teams and working together on several different projects:
- New students Allanique, Lexie, and Katherine join Katerina and Emmerson on antifouling projects testing graphite-based coatings from Graphite Innovation & Technologies with support from a P&I Voucher. and NRC IRAP and (hopefully) another project following up our earlier work on ultraviolet light as an antifoulant.
- New students Lia, Laura, and Megan, join Michelle and Rachel exploring lobster foraging responses to bait and natural prey, funded by the Atlantic Fisheries Fund. A side project is also going to be testing the potential of acoustic baits, funded by another P&I Voucher.
- Two students are working on snail neuroethology: Carmen will be testing for electrophysiological reponses of chemosensory neurons, while new student Donica is working in collaboration with Roger Croll on catecholamine neuroanatomy.
- Meanwhile, Ella (lobster toxicology) and Areej (snail navigation behaviour) are moving closer every day to defending their MSc theses.
And also an extra thank you to Chelsie Hall, project manager working behind the scenes to help keep things on the straight and narrow!
My name is Katherine Purvis, and I recently graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a BSc and Honours in Biology. I am working for the Wyeth Lab as a Research Technician with the support of the Career Launcher internship program. This summer will be my third year in research, however it is my first summer with the Wyeth Lab. In my previous work experiences, I have worked as a Research Assistant at Saint Mary’s University in a molecular genetics lab and a physical chemistry lab. During my internship, I will be assisting a project on the development of environmentally conscious antifouling treatments. I am very excited about this opportunity, and I am looking forward to my time at StFX.
My name is Laura Brady and I am from Ottawa, Ontario. In the fall I will be starting my fourth year in biology at StFX. This is my first summer doing work for the Wyeth Lab and I am working on a lobster foraging project. I will be working as an assistant data manager as well as doing some field work on fishing boats. The goal of the project is to test bait preferences of the American lobster in the hopes of gaining more knowledge on one of the most important fisheries in Canada. Our findings may also allow us to provide advice for lobster harvesters to make the fishery more sustainable. I am very happy to be part of this project and excited to spend my summer by the ocean.
My name is Megan Fraser and I am a recent graduate of StFX University and will be beginning my Masters in the fall at Dalhousie University. This is my fourth summer doing research in the StFX biology department. I have previously worked in Brier Island, NS, on a bog restoration project, and have worked the past two summers on Boat Harbour remediation projects. This summer I am working in the Wyeth Lab on two lobster-related projects. I will be assisting with a lobster toxicology analysis and I will also be the data manager for the lobster foraging crew where we will be testing bait preferences in the American lobster. I enjoy spending time in nature whether it be hiking, camping, kayaking or beach combing.
I am from New Providence in The Bahamas and I’m going into my fourth year at St. Francis Xavier University. I am doing an advanced major in Biology and hope to do directed studies in the fall. I enjoy reading, spending time near the water, and making observations about my environment. In intending to become a marine biologist, I feel doing research and getting experience in situ will help me to better navigate the path I would like to take to achieve my goals. I am excited and grateful for this opportunity to participate in the research project on biofouling this summer.