When Predators Vanish, so Does the Ecosystem: New York Times Article about the Bertness Lab’s work!

Here’s the paper we published:

Press release at Brown:

My drawing in the sidebar:


Guest post on Ursa Sapiens: What does the bat say?

Here’s the link!

Degraded salt marsh: scientific illustration


Degraded salt marsh: scientific illustration

A drawing I did that became a figure in a scientific paper published in PLoS One. This is what many salt marshes in Cape Cod look like, and recently, many in Rhode Island. Read more about salt marsh die-off here:

For the Sake of Science

Article published in the Brown Daily Herald:
Good pic for poster

A new paper from the Bertness Lab!

The paper, “Herbivory drives the spread of salt marsh die-off” was published in PLoS One and documents the findings of work in our lab that I helped out with last summer.

Summer in the marsh


Summer in the marsh

After a not very brief respite, I am back in the blogging world. This summer, I spent my days knee-deep in mud, stumping doggedly through the marsh for the sake of science. Here I am with a lovely pair of Sesarma Reticulatum crabs, which would probably have pried a good chunk of my nose off if I had let them get any closer to my face. Incidentally, these crabs also snip and ingest chunks of cordgrass at such a high rate in certain marshes that they are causing die-off! More on this later. Happy blogging!

Eating logic

Powerful stare from beneath intense eyebrows
Utter control
Striding with purpose
Her golden fingertips drip invincibility into the carpet

Her femininity permeates the air
A quick turn, a scent detected
His eyes narrow, his pupils dilate, his heart races
A conquest tasted before capture
Intimidation creeps, mixed with sweet, invigorating challenge
Her pride and her prejudice will both meet their demise

Always pushing away, standing alone, independent squared shoulders
Though they fling blades of scorn and spray with gouts of looking down their noses
After glimpsing her piercing eyes, the sexist cringe and look away

He is not one of them, she knows
But her thoughts repel instinct, twining through an overactive neural network
She meets his eyes, and they
Explode into a fiery burst of light without order
Logic is eaten; swept away in the flames

Hidden among the purines and pyrimidines
A primitive green instinctual repressed something
In reckless wild abandon rears its head and
Force the beholder to open, accept, submit

Blink back tears of freedom, realization, peace
In being taken, owned, directed
She was, essentially, released

Clearly evolution was angry at men the day blanket octopuses were created

Blanket Octopus 3We all know octopuses/octopi/octopodes are pretty fricking awesome.  But the blanket octopi of the genus Tremoctopus (right) take their awesomeness to a whole new level-at least, the females do.



Have you ever heard of the Portuguese Man o’ War (Physalia) (left)?  For those of you who haven’t, they’re these pretty blue siphonophores (colonies of little jelly-like invertebrates) that travel the ocean with a balloon that they inflate and use to “sail” around.  However, don’t let its harmless, rather beautiful looks deceive you.  The Man o’ War delivers the most excruciating jellyfish sting known to man, and can even kill a human.  The jellyfish uses this sting to paralyze or kill its prey.


But does this deter the blanket octopus?  No.  The female blanket octopus laughs in the face of danger.  Besides being rakishly outfitted with fancy cape-like flaps of skin that the octopus waves to distract its enemies, the female blanket octopus is also immune to the sting of the Portuguese Man o’ War.

So what does the female blanket octopus do with this unique talent?  It rips off the Man o’ War’s tentacles, and flails them around like a whip!



What about the male blanket octopus, you ask?  He’s the size of a walnut (right) and has no interesting qualities whatsoever.  Unfortunately for him, his emasculation doesn’t stop there-when it’s time to mate, the male blanket octopus fills its arm with sperm, tears his own appendage off, and gives it to the female.  Then, he dies.  Talk about getting the short end of the stick.