Molluscan Ecology Education

  • Arctica islandica:
    Arctica islandica:   Age determination of the ocean quahog  
  • Research Experiences for Undergrads (REUs)
    Research Experiences for Undergrads (REUs)   Khalil Russell holds a horseshoe crab during a research cruise. Photo by Theresa Redmond.  
  • Molluscan Ecology Lab Teaches Beyond VIMS:
    Molluscan Ecology Lab Teaches Beyond VIMS:   Kathleen Hemeon, a student from the University of Southern Mississippi, is spending time at VIMS learning about aging molluscs. Here she shows an unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni) during work with the U.S. Forest Service on the west coast.  
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Graduate education

Molluscan Ecology graduate students are enrolled in William & Mary's School of Marine Science graduate program and are part of the VIMS Department of Fisheries Science. Both Master's and Ph.D. students complete research projects that lead to Master of Science theses or Doctoral dissertations. These students are an integral part of the Molluscan Ecology program.

Student Research 

Research experience is available to graduate, undergraduate and high school students working in the Molluscan Ecology Lab. 

Alex Marquardt: Ph.D. student at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary 

Alex MarquardtAlex is an ecologist and PhD student in the Department of Fisheries Science at Virginia Institute of Marine Science working with Roger Mann studying Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) biology and population dynamics in the Chesapeake Bay. Her work focuses primarily on marine invertebrates and addresses applied questions that directly inform management and restoration of harvested species. She hopes to engage with local communities and stakeholders to share knowledge, build relationships, and facilitate participation in scientific research. 

- Alex Marquardt's website

Undergraduate Opportunities

In partnership with the Science Center for Marine Fisheries, the Molluscan Ecology Lab can provide Research Experiences for Undergrads (REUs).

Garrett BellinGarrett Bellin is a rising sophomore at William & Mary studying applied statistics and data science. He is a researcher for the William & Mary Center for Geospatial Analysis, performing GIS analyses for various clients. Currently, he is working with Dr. Roger Mann using GIS mapping to find cod spawning locations and determine how they are affected by ocean warming trends. Using the DOPPIO and GLORYS ocean temperature datasets, ideal temperatures for cod spawning will be ascertained and overlaid with substrate and cod location data. Garrett hopes to be able to create GIS models that can predict future cod spawning grounds as ocean temperatures continue to rise. Policy changes could ultimately be affected which address the location and boundary of the Great South Channel Habitat Management Area near Nantucket.

Brody PhillipsBrody Phillips is a first generation undergraduate student at William & Mary majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology. He is currently working with Dr. Roger Mann in the VIMS Molluscan Ecology Lab to investigate the potential EMF impacts of inter array cables from offshore wind farms on invertebrate species. This project consists of literature review of offshore wind farms, power cable modeling, and previously studied EMF relationships within the marine environment. While previous research in this area is minimal, predominant focused has been on more charismatic (vertebrate) species such as sharks, dolphins, and turtles. Almost no research related to underwater transmission cables and EMF alteration impacts at the neurological level has been done on invertebrate species. Along with literature review, he will be meeting with energy transmission engineers, neurophysiology researchers, and other professionals to determine the significance of these impacts and how they affect neuron communication and function in invertebrates. 

Training Opportunities Provided by the VIMS Molluscan Ecology Lab: Graduate Students

Since 2015, five University of Southern Mississippi graduate students have been trained in shell aging techniques. Kelsey Kuykendall, Sara Pace, Leanne Poussard, Kathleen Hemeon, and Jill Sower received individualized tutorials ranging from weeks to months from the VIMS Molluscan Ecology Lab. They learned cutting, grinding, polishing, and aging techniques for various mollusc shells, thus contributing data to their graduate studies and furthering progress related to shellfish projects funded by the Science Center for Marine Fisheries (SCEMFIS)

M. Chase Long learned shell aging techniques for his Master’s work and presented his research at the 2019 National Shellfish Association Meeting in New Orleans. Chase was awarded a 2019 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship and traveled to Washington, D.C. to begin his Fellowship on February 1st, 2019.

Kathleen Hemeon, USM, also co-authored a laboratory techniques manual which aids in the education of future students and technicians.

Utilizing Olympus Microscope and Olympus CellSens for Aging Theresa Redmond (VIMS Molluscan Ecology) & Kathleen Hemeon (Univ. of Southern Mississippi) April 2019, Manual 2019-2

Non-Graduate Training and Community Outreach

With regard to training outside of the graduate program, Sara Thomas and Erin Mohr, technicians with the VIMS Sea Scallop Program, as well as Brittany Baker, Oakland University, were provided training by Dr. Roger Mann, Melissa Southworth, and Theresa Redmond in aging scallops.  Sara Thomas learned to age scallops via shell isotope analysis and, in turn, contributed to instructional and field videos produced by the VIMS Molluscan Ecology Lab.

Scallop Isotope Preparation (2019)

Scallop Research Aboard the F/V Celtic (2019)

Lab & Research Technician, Theresa Redmond, taught a shell aging class to a group at Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Rutgers University as well as a workshop at VIMS. Marine Scientist Senior, Melissa Southworth, furnished presentations followed by a hands-on demonstration of numerous mollusc specimens to several 5th grade science classes at Bethel Elementary School on “Bivalve Day.” (See below and the Flickr photo gallery)

Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School high school student, Emma McKee, as well as William & Mary undergraduate, Khalil Russell, were taught shell aging techniques. Khalil presented a poster, "Can we Discern Major Meterological and Environmental Events in the Growth Record of the Long Lived Clam Arctica islandica" at the 2019 National Shellfisheries Association Meeting in New Orleans. Emma used the techniques and knowledge she learned regarding the growth cycles of ocean quahog, Arctica islandica, for her senior research project. She also won a 2019 Chesapeake Bay Governor's School Science Symposium Outstanding Presentation Ribbon as well as second place in the Virginia Junior Academy of Science Overall Presentations for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Emma began her freshman year at William & Mary in the fall of 2019.

Bethel Elementary "Bivalve Day"

Missy Southworth, VIMS Sr. Research Scientist, explains bivalve hinge construction and shell aging that is performed in the Molluscan Ecology Lab. Photo credit: Karen Reay

Students at Bethel Elementary School in Gloucester get a lesson on bivalve biology along with their commercial and ecological importance from Missy Southworth, VIMS Molluscan Ecology, April 2019.  The Molluscan Ecology Lab has several ongoing aging projects for oysters, clams and scallops. 

Students were able to see the process of how clams are aged using microscopic internal growth rings laid down within the shell structure and got to try their hand at aging scallop shells using external growth lines. 

See the photo gallery for more images of Bethel Elementary "Bivalve Day"

Formal Graduate Molluscan Ecology Courses

Larval Ecology (MS658) - examines the Ecology of marine larval forms: spawning and development patterns; physical limitations on the fertilization process, feeding, nutrition, and mobility; size and parental investment, dispersal and metamorphosis, post-metamorphic survival.  (3 credits)

Malacology (MS668) - examines the evolution of the molluscs from the Cambrian to the present, radiation to the current 80,000 or so species, and the functional morphology and ecology of each of the major taxonomic groups. The section on cephalopods is taught by Dr. Michael Vecchione of the USNM, Smithsonian. The course concludes with a field trip to the research collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. (3 credits)

Smithsonian Field Trip 2019. Photo credit: Theresa Redmond