PEET - Bivalves Outreach and Broader Impacts

In addition to training students, postdocs, and workshop participants, this project has reached out to the scientific and lay communities in the following ways.

Marine Conservation: Results are directly applied to informing regulatory policy in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. For example, our recent bivalve diversity research shows nearly three times the species-level bivalve diversity in the second largest U.S. Marine Sanctuary than previously assumed; we are beginning to be able to demonstrate human-mediated changes over the past 100 years. In a more specific instance, Florida Fish & Wildlife Regulation Chapter 68B-42 (.pdf) prohibits harvest of 'Fileclams - any species of the genus Lima” yet was written to protect flame scallops (mainly from the aquarium trade), now placed in the genus Ctenoides. Our revision is prompting a change in the Florida statute governing these species. Comparison of new field records against our baseline data allows the recognition of recent invasions - an example being the demonstrated new arrival of a gryphaeid or “foam oyster,” Hyotissa hyotis, settling on offshore wrecks (described by Bieler et al., 2004) and now the subject of a “Non-indigenous aquatic species” fact sheet by the USGS.

Educational Programs and Lectures: In October 2000, the PIs were invited participants in the annual meeting of the Florida Association of Benthologists in Long Key, Florida, attended by 25 participants, most of whom were environmental biologists and local or state agency administrators. Lectures were presented on Florida marine bivalves, emphasizing identification techniques, and on Florida Keys molluscan biodiversity. In an identification workshop taught by the PIs, hands-on assistance was provided to participants who had brought molluscan identification problems with them from their own survey projects. The PIs were slated to participate again in October 2005, but the event was postponed by the organizers.

In June 2005, PI Mikkelsen presented an invited keynote lecture to ca. 50 attendees of the annual meeting of the New York State Marine Education Association on Long Island, entitled “Bivalve Diversity as an Educational Tool in Marine Invertebrates.”

While conducting fieldwork at the commercial pearl farm at Guaymas, Mexico, in 2003, graduate student Ilya Temkin presented a guest lecture “Pearl Oyster Evolution” for an ongoing course on Bivalve Culture at the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM). Mr. Temkin has also presented public lectures on his research to New York, Philadelphia, and Cape May [New Jersey] Shell Clubs and the New York Paleontological Society. Likewise, students Isabella Kappner and John Wilk have served as invited speakers of the Chicago Shell Club.

Dental Picks: In July 2003, through the auspices of the PEET Marine Bivalve project, and the generosity of sources in the New York dental school community, we acquired a large supply of new or unused dental picks in a variety of forms from fine needles to robust scrapers. These are particularly useful for dissection, shell cleaning for light SEM photography, and specimen preparation in paleontology and vertebrate zoology. Via the PEET and several other internet listservers, we offered packs of 6-8 picks free of charge to colleagues and students who professed a science-related need. Over the course of the following months, we filled 109 requests (600-900 picks) with the assistance of AMNH Malacology volunteers. Postage was provided by AMNH. Recipients included museum collections managers and preparators, Ph.D. researchers, Ph.D. and MS students, and amateur collectors in 16 countries and 26 U. S. states plus the District of Columbia. Taxonomic targets of the recipients included shelled mollusks (freshwater, terrestrial and marine), nudibranchs, echinoderms, insects, myriapods, arachnids, chironomids, crustaceans, octocorals, jellyfish, annelids (marine and terrestrial), sipunculans, nematodes, 'herps,' fish, fossil whales, diatoms, algae, and fungi. 17 recipients (15%) stated uses on paleontological subjects. Most uses involved specimen preparation for taxonomy or photography, but projects involving morphometrics, conservation, and community ecology were also mentioned. One museum requested a set for their geology department. Some of the more unusual uses stated by recipients were disarticulating echinoderm tests or small beetles, manipulating nematodes, larvae, or eggs, drilling shells to implant probes, etching identification numbers into the shells of experimental animals, extracting parasites from host tissues, extracting tissue from shells for DNA or chemical analyses, collecting small animals from heterogenous environments, harvesting fungal germlings from agar plates, extracting beetle larvae, shipworms, or ascomycete fruitbodies from wood, and removing cork and labels from old museum vials. Colleagues in Chicago, Hawaii, Michigan, Amsterdam, and Okinawa requested sets specifically for student or classroom use.

Other museum exhibits: In addition to the Pearls exhibit, various project spin-offs (e.g., data on molluscan diversity, bivalve biology) have been integrated into major public exhibits (Hall of Ocean Life, Pearls, Evolving Planet) at AMNH and FMNH. Co-PI Mikkelsen's research on bivalves was also featured in the short-term public exhibit Collection Connections at Museum of the Earth (Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, New York) in 2007.