Wallace Coffee Talks - Winter 2020
07 January - 12pm - Zoology Museum
Fancy a cup of coffee or tea and learning more about the researchers at Swansea university? Come join us at the Wallace coffee talks: an informal seminar series where students, staff and others related to Swansea university speak about their research or personal interests.
A coralline alga gains tolerance to ocean acidification over multiple generations of exposure
Crustose coralline algae (CCA) play a crucial role in the building of reefs in the photic zones of nearshore ecosystems globally and are highly susceptible to ocean acidification. Yet the extent to which CCA can gain tolerance to ocean acidification over multiple generations of exposure is unknown. We show that while calcification of juvenile CCA is initially highly sensitive to ocean acidification, after 6 generations of exposure the effects of ocean acidification disappears. A reciprocal transplant experiment conducted on the 7th generation where half of all replicates were interchanged across treatments confirmed that they had acquired tolerance to low pH and not simply to laboratory conditions. Our results demonstrate that reef-accreting taxa can gain tolerance to ocean acidification over multiple generations of exposure, suggesting that some of these cosmopolitan species could maintain their critical ecological role in reef-formation.
Maze learning and memory in a decapod crustacean
Spatial learning is an ecologically important trait well studied in vertebrates and a few invertebrates yet poorly understood in crustaceans. Considering many decapod crustaceans play key roles in marine and freshwater ecosystems and live in complex, three-dimensional habitats, learning the location of, and routes to, resources should be an adaptive trait we can investigate in these animals using mazes. We investigated the ability of European shore crabs, Carcinus maenas, to learn a complex maze over four consecutive weeks using food as a motivator. Crabs showed steady improvement during this conditioning period in both the time taken to find the food and in the number of wrong turns taken. Crabs also clearly remembered the maze as when returned two weeks later but without any food, they all returned to the end of the maze in under eight minutes. Crabs that had not been conditioned to the maze (naïve animals) took far longer to reach the end and many did not venture to the end of the maze at all during the one-hour study period. This study provides an initial description of spatial learning in a benthic decapod.