Tuesday, 13 February 2007

My Animals

Antarctic brachiopod with youngsters attached

Antarctic clams called Laternula - these live in mud and clay and a lot of digging is involved whilst diving to get them out!

Antarctic sea urchin

One of my holding tanks in the Bonner Lab aquarium

The animals I'm studying have limestone (calcium carbonate) shells or skeletons. These include animals like snails (gastropods), clams (bivalves), sea urchins, brittle stars and brachiopods. I'm researching differences in shell thickness and the type of skeleton animals have in Antarctica. Because the water is very cold here it is difficult to remove calcium carbonate from the surrounding seawater. This is why I'm measuring the amount of energy animals have to use to make their shell or skeleton and comparing these measurements to data from other parts of the world where the water is warmer. It's easier to make a shell or skeleton in warmer waters, but there are more predators to defend against - so shells need to be much thicker!

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