Location: Bowdoin / Coastal Studies Center / Student Research / Summer 2011 / Tamara Perreault '12

Coastal Studies Center

Tamara Perreault '12


Advisor: Trevor Rivers, Award: Doherty Fellowship
Project: Luminescence as a response to predators in the scale worm Harmothoe imbricate

Bioluminescence has evolved from more than one common ancestor in over 30 taxonomic groups.  Our study focuses on the luminescent scale worm Harmothoe imbricata. Although many studies have analyzed how light is produced by Harmothoe, none have specifically considered why it is produced.  Our hypothesis is that scale worms use luminescence as a defense against predators.  Data was collected from crab species that live in the same intertidal region as the worms: Carcinus, Cancer and Hemigrapsus.  Tanks in lab were regulated on a 12-hour light cycle so that it was dark during our day.  For data collection, a worm and crab were placed in a 4” x 4” tank separated by a divider. After an adjustment period, the divider was removed and their interaction was filmed using low light cameras and a night vision device (with an infra-red light source).  Light levels were measured by a photomultiplier and recorded to disk.  Preliminary observations revealed two different luminescent responses.  The first is a flashing response from an intact worm that is possibly meant to warn or surprise predators.  The second is a bright display from the back half of an autotomized worm, allowing the front half to escape and eventually regenerate.  


Pecha Kucha

These presentations are in PechaKucha format. PechaKucha is Japanese for ‘chit-chat’. It is a presentation methodology devised in 2003 in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each. The slides auto advance to keep the presentations concise and quick paced. Each presentation is (about) 6 minutes and 40 seconds long.
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