Along with my collaborators, Erik Sotka, Courtney Murren, Allan Strand and our battery of students, we have embarked on an intense summer field season. Erik and I are leading the effort of sampling populations of the introduced red seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla. It is native to the northwest Pacific, but has been introduced to every continental margin in the Northern Hemisphere in the last few decades.
To date, studies on marine invasions focus principally on demographic and ecological processes, and the importance of evolutionary processes has been rarely tested. Moreover, there are surprisingly few studies that compare native and non-native populations in their biology or ecology. Our current project integrates population genetics, field surveys and common-garden laboratory experiments to address the role of rapid evolutionary adaptation in invasion success.
For my part, I knew my summer would be filled with a month long sojourn in Japan, with short trips every 10 – 15 days around North America bookended by a month long trip to sample European coastlines with a return to my old haunts in northwestern France.
Alas, Erik’s first leg in Japan (see some photos here) resulted in a mountain (or maybe seamount, see my next post on the R package marmap!) of live algae for culturing and phenotyping! Life became decidedly hurried!
No pre-emptive posts were penned … just shepherding our fantastic students into the ins and outs of red algal culturing, while keeping up morale with the endless playlists of Songza (80’s Prom being a particular favorite due to the aptly timed “Turning Japanese” while processing Japanese populations of G. vermiculophylla).
I had spoken with Jeremy about posting field work stories as well as highlighting the research of interest to TME readers from the marine labs we’d be visiting throughout the summer. Yet, once again, time did not allow for live posts while in country … so over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some field anecdotes as well as a description of the different places we had the opportunity and good fortune to visit.
We are celebrating our Independence Day in the US this weekend, so I’ll leave all of you with a few pictures for the long holiday weekend! As well as a massive thank you to all of our hosts in Japan who made this a hugely successful as well as a once in a lifetime trip!