Information

Aquatic Snail Identification


I can't for the life of me find an identification of these snails. They're thriving in brackish water, but may be freshwater naturally. They're about .8cm long at their largest. I believe they have live birth due to the lack of eggs but presence of baby snails over the year and a half that I've had them.


Looks like a Malayan Live Bearing snail , fairly common in the US aquarium trade. I have inadvertently gotten them into all my tanks. Common aquarium fish can't eat them ( unless you crush them on the glass). I did not know they can tolerate brackish water. Yhey will get to 1.5 mm.


Aquatic Snail Identification - Biology

Shellfish and Snail Identification and Recreational Limits

(Mya arenaria)

Other names: steamers, longnecks

Photo credit: Heidi Leighton (DMR)

Soft shell clams are a native species that live in mud, sand and gravel intertidal areas. It takes about three to four years for a clam to grow to legal size, which is two inches (2&rsquo). Harvest season is year-round, peak is May through October. Soft shelled clams are regulated by DMR and coastal towns with a shellfish conservation ordinance. Many towns require recreational licenses which can be obtained through the town office or municipal shellfish warden.

2-inch minimum size measured along the longest axis.

Town shellfish conservation ordinances may have more conservative minimum sizes or a maximum size limit.

Recreational limit is 1 peck per person daily

Towns may restrict these quantities even further through their shellfish conservation ordinance.

(Mercenaria mercenaria)

Other names: quahog, round clam, cherrystones, littlenecks,

Hard clams are a native species found in the sand and mud habitats of the intertidal and sheltered subtidal. They are referred to by different names depending on their size. In the order of largest to smallest, these clams are called: quahogs (chowderhogs), cherrystones, topnecks, littlenecks, and countnecks. Hard clams are regulated by DMR and some coastal towns with a shellfish conservation ordinance. Many towns require recreational licenses which can be obtained through the town office or municipal shellfish warden. In the Damariscotta River, Sheepscot River, and New Meadows Lakes there is a Vibrio Control Plan in place that closes recreational harvest from May 1st to October 31st each year

1-inch hinge width minimum size. Hinge width is measured at the thickest part of the clam near where the shells are joined together.

Town shellfish conservation ordinances may have more conservative minimum sizes or a maximum size limit.

Recreational limit is 1 peck per person daily.

Towns may restrict these quantities even further through their shellfish conservation ordinance

(Ensis directus)

Other names: American jackknife clam

Razor clams are a native species primarily found in shallow subtidal flats close to the shoreline. They are distinguished by their long thin shells. Razor clams are regulated by DMR and some coastal towns with a shellfish conservation ordinance. Many towns require recreational licenses which can be obtained through the town office or municipal shellfish warden.

4-inch minimum size measured along the longest axis.

Town shellfish conservation ordinances may have more conservative minimum sizes or a maximum size limit.

Recreational limit is 1 peck per person daily.

Towns may restrict these quantities even further through their shellfish conservation ordinance.

(Crassostrea virginica)

Other names: eastern oyster, Virginia oyster, common oyster

The American oyster is native to the east coast of North America. They have two rough, whitish, irregular shells. They naturally grow on oyster reefs but most of Maine&rsquos American oysters are grown on aquaculture lease sites. American oysters are regulated by DMR and some coastal towns with a shellfish conservation ordinance. Many towns require a recreational license which can be obtained through the town office or municipal shellfish warden. In the Damariscotta River, Sheepscot River, and New Meadows Lakes there is a Vibrio Control Plan in place that closes recreational harvest from May 1st to October 31st each year.

2 1/2 inch minimum size measured along the longest axis.

Recreational limit is 1 peck per person daily

Towns may restrict these quantities even further through their shellfish conservation ordinance.

(Ostrea edulis)

Other names: flat oyster, Belons, mud oyster, edible oyster

European Oysters are characterized by their rounder, flatter shell. European oysters are not native to Maine and were first grown by aquaculturists, but later established wild populations. European oysters are regulated by DMR and some coastal towns with a shellfish conservation ordinance. Many towns require recreational licenses which can be obtained through the town office or municipal shellfish warden. In the Damariscotta River, Sheepscot River, and New Meadows Lakes there is a Vibrio Control Plan in place that closes recreational harvest from May 1st to October 31st each year. There is also a seasonal closure statewide from June 15th to September 15th.

3-inch minimum size measured along the longest axis.

Recreational limit is 1 peck per person daily.

Towns may restrict these quantities even further through their shellfish conservation ordinance.

(Mytilus edulis)

Other names: common mussel

The blue mussel is a common native bivalve mollusk that lives from the intertidal zone to depths of several hundred feet and is found frequently clinging to the rocky shoreline. Mussels can be harvested all year and are regulated by DMR only, they are not regulated by towns and recreational licenses are not required.

Recreational limit is 2 bushels per person daily.

(Spisula solidissima)

Other names: bar clam, hen clam, skimmer, sea clam

Surf clams also known as hen clams are very large and fast growing clams which can grow to 8 inches or more and weigh over a pound. They live burrowed into the sand beneath the turbulent waves of the surf breaker zone. Surf clams are regulated by DMR and some coastal towns with a shellfish conservation ordinance. Many towns require a recreational harvest license which can be obtained through the town office or municipal shellfish warden.

The recreational harvest limit is 3 bushels per person daily.

Towns may restrict these quantities even further through their shellfish conservation ordinance.

(Arctica islandica)

Mahogany quahogs are small hard shelled clams that are harvested from Maine&rsquos subtidal waters. Mahogany quahogs are fished for by vessels with bottom drag gear and regulated by DMR and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

1-inch hinge width minimum size.

Hinge width is measured at the thickest part of the clam near where the shells are joined together.

The recreational harvest limit is 3 bushels per person daily.

(Littorina littorea)

The common periwinkle is the most common intertidal snail. Common Periwinkles grow to 11/4 inches in length.

Minimum size is determined by a numerical count. If a one quart sample contains more than 220 periwinkles, they are considered undersize.

The recreational harvest limit is 2 quarts per person daily.

(Buccinum undatum)

Other names: northern whelk, edible whelk, European whelk

Waved whelks are medium sized with both axial and spiral ridges on their shell. Adult waved whelks are two to four inches in length and are found sub tidally.

Legal size is 21/2 inches shell length

The recreational harvest limit is 1/2 bushel of whelks per person daily.

Shellfish recreational limits = The one peck per day limit is for a combined total regardless of species harvested. Towns may also require recreational licenses although the state does not require a license to harvest for personal consumption.


1. Apple Snails

There are many different species of apple snails, but probably the most common one sold in pet stores is the Pomacea bredgesii, or “mystery snail.” These snails are well equipped for life underwater, with one gill and one lung. You may see them climb up the tank wall and stick out their "breathing tube" so they can get a gulp of atmospheric air without climbing out of water.

One of the reasons why mystery snails are so popular is that they are gonochoristic, meaning that they have separate sexes and cannot reproduce on their own and, therefore, cannot easily "take over" an aquarium. Mystery snails may float at the water surface for several days, which may be because they get too much air in their shell. This species of snail is also favored because they generally avoid eating aquarium plants unless they’re decaying, and they seem to prefer eating algae.

Mystery snails may grow to a few inches in length. Unfortunately, these beautiful animals cannot be kept outside in a pond, as they are not very tolerant to cold weather. Many mystery snails, such as ones under the genus Pomacea, lay their pinkish-colored egg sacks above the waterline. Some other species lay their eggs under the waterline. These eggs are generally small, translucent, white eggs that grow bigger as the embryos develop.

A ramshorn snail with a beautiful red foot


Preparation

Prepare a holding pail or habitat with room-temperature conditioned tap water. Rinse water plants and add to the holding pail.

Newly arrived snails often do not move for the first 2 or 3 days. Snails are most active at night. If you think a snail is dead, use a pencil to gently pry against the hard flap at the shell opening. If it resists probing or is tightly closed, the animal is alive.

Avoid overcrowding the habitat do not hold more than 15 to 20 snails per 1 to 2 gallons of water.

Immediately change the water if it becomes cloudy or foul smelling, then check for and discard any dead snails. A dead snail will have a foul odor and usually hang out of its shell when picked up.


2.2 Topshell, Trochus niloticus

2.2.1 Classification and description of topshell Trochus niloticus

The species Trochus niloticus commonly known as Topshell, belongs to Super-family trochacea and Family Trochidae of Order Archeogastropoda, the most primitive order of the prosobranch gastropoda. The species name mistakenly referred to the Nile River by Aldrovandus, who described it first in 1606, and confused it with another gastropod found in the Nile River, Egypt. Linnaeus repeated the name niloticus in 1767 (Nash, 1993).

T. niloticus has two different growth forms. One form is conical with straight sides and a flat base. In the second form, the final whorl of the shell expands greatly to form a wide basal flange. These two different forms are considered as phenotypic variants of a single species (Asano, 1963).

The trochus shell is smooth and heavy with a thickened, spreading peripheral rim. The body whorl has concave sides. The columella is long, curved, smooth and ends at a basal notch. The outer lip and the aperture are smooth, and the colour is off-white with oblique reddish stripes (Figure 4). Trochus niloticus is classified as follows:

O rder - Archaeogastropoda

2.2.2 Distribution and habitat of the topshell, Trochus niloticus

T. niloticus is found in the tropical & subtropical waters between the eastern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. Its natural distribution extends from Sri Lanka in the west to Wallis Island in the east. The northern limit is in the Ryukyus Island of Southern Japan and New Caledonia and Swain Reef at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in the south. Because of successful transplantation, trochus distribution now has extended far to the east (Figure 4).

The natural habitat of Trochus niloticus is the coral reef, and particularly the reef-flats. It generally inhabits in the windward margin of the reef, but is sometimes found on the leeward side particularly in the intertidal and shallow sub-tidal zones. Juvenile trochus are found among the boulders and rubble on the reef top. Adult trochus are usually found from reef margin to 25 meters deep. Maximum density occurs on the dead coral slabs covered with small algae, diatoms and foraminiferans. Size segregation is also noted in trochus: the juveniles are mainly found on the intertidal reef-flats, while adults prefer the sub-tidal and fore-reef slope areas. A transplantation of trochus was attempted in Tongatapu, when 1,019 trochus were introduced from Fiji. Of that number, 500 individuals were released at Fukave Island and 400 were released at 'Euaiki Island.

2.2.3 Nutrition and feeding

T. niloticus is a herbivore feeding on either turf or fleshy algae. It has a rasp-like radula made up of about 150 teeth, which is used to graze on the substrate. It generally feeds on green algae (Chlorophyceae) and brown algae (Phaeophyceae). Analysis of the digestive tract contents showed a small amount of red algae and large quantities of bottom deposits like sand and sediments. Remains of foraminifera, sponge, hydroids, crustaceans and molluscs were also found. Rao (in Nash, 1993) concluded that T. niloticus &ldquoextracts its nourishment mainly from the bottom deposit consisting of organic and inorganic materials, but supplements it with nutrients derived from an inconsiderably portion of vegetable matter&rdquo.

Figure 4. Gross external anatomy of the Trochus niloticus

Figure 5. Distribution of Trochus niloticus and its transplantation
(Arrows show transplantation of Trochus niloticus to islands in the West-tropical Pacific. The striped area is the natural habitat of the trochus. (Bour, 1990))

2.2.4 Gross external anatomy, reproduction and life cycle

T. niloticus usually reaches a maximum diameter of 12&ndash15 cm at the base of the shell or the shell width (&ldquoSW&rdquo). The gross external parts of the shell are shown in Figure 4.

Top shells are dioecious, having separate sexes, but they do not exhibit external dimorphism, meaning that the sexes cannot be differentiated by external morphology. Sexes are readily distinguished by histological examination of the gonads: male gonads are pale brown to creamy white in colour, and mature female gonads are dark green.

They release their gametes (eggs and sperm) directly into the water and fertilisation is external. The eggs are lecithotrophic (containing a yolk), usually 220&ndash240 &mu m in diameter with larger jelly. Fecundity ranges from 100,000 to 1,000,000 eggs for female shell (Heslinga & Hillman 1981 in Nash, 1993), and could possibly reach 2,000,000 (Nash, 1985). A general cross-section of gastropods showing the position of the genital gland and other internal organs is shown in Figure 6.

The ratio between males and females as reported by Asano (1963) is generally equal. Spawning occurs throughout the year at low latitudes, but only during summer months at the southern or northern limit of its range.

Spawning behaviour is preceded by movement of the trochus to a high point in the tank, either to the water line, or to the top of other trochus in the tank. Males always initiate spawning. Females begin to spawn from 10 minutes to an hour after commencement of spawning by males. Spawning takes place at night, and usually a few days before and after the new moon and full moon.

The life cycle of T. niloticus is shown in Figure 7 with permission from Kikutani (1992). Spawning of sexually mature trochus usually occurs in the reef slope. Fertilised eggs undergo a series of cleavages, from 2&ndash4&ndash8&ndash16&ndash32 morula and to the gastrula stage. The enclosed trochopore stage follows and hatching occurs within 10&ndash12 hours, depending on the water temperature after fertilisation. After hatching, the trocophore develops a larval shell, the protoconch, and swims towards the surface of the water using ciliated velum. It feeds on its own yolk reserves, thus becoming a lecithotrophic veliger. Roughly 3&ndash4 days later the veliger larva settles down to favourable substrates and metamorphoses by shedding its velum. It begins to creep, feeding on microscopic algae in the reef-flat until it becomes a juvenile, and later moves to the reef slope during its adult stage.

Figure 6. The general internal anatomy of gastropods, showing the gonads

Figure 7. Life cycle of Trochus niloticus (Kikutani, 1992)


Publications

Synthetic aperture radar and optical mapping used to monitor change and replacement of Phragmites australis marsh in the Lower Mississippi River Delta, Louisiana

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mapping of density as an enhancement of Phragmites australis optical live fractional cover (LFC) mapping was carried out in the lower Mississippi Delta during 2016 to 2019. Also, as part of the study, the replacement of P. australis with elephant-ear was analyzed. To that end, yearly maps from 2016 to 2019 of L-band.

Ramsey III, Elijah W. Rangoonwala, Amina

Widespread Ranavirus and Perkinsea infections in Cuban treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) invading New Orleans, USA

Invasive species can negatively impact ecosystems in numerous ways, including vectoring pathogenic organisms. In amphibians, a lineage globally threatened by multiple pathogens, this spread of disease via invasive species could contribute to declines in native populations. The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) is invasive in the.

Galt, Net Atkinson, Matthew S Glorioso, Brad Waddle, Hardin Litton, Melanie Savage, Anna E.

Assessment of wave attenuation, current patterns, and sediment deposition and erosion during winter storms by living shoreline structures in Gandys Beach, New Jersey

This study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and Northeastern University in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. This report summarizes field investigation and analysis of waves, current patterns, and sediment deposition and erosion along the Gandys Beach, New Jersey, salt marsh vegetated.

Wang, Hongqing Capurso, William D. Chen, Qin Zhu, Ling Niemoczynski, Lukasz Snedden, Gregg


Results

PRISMA flow diagram

The Prisma diagram (Fig 2) provides an overview of how we arrived at the final 158 articles included in our systematic review process.

Papers reviewed, and our extraction summaries

S1 Table provides the 158 articles along with our extraction summaries that were considered in our GRADE assessments. Three of the articles we examined were authored by one or more members of our team, so an asterisk has singled out these articles in the table.

Determination of certainty of evidence following GRADE criteria

We grouped the techniques covered in the 158 papers into 25 categories (Table 2). Some papers discussed more than one technique. As noted in Fig 1, the techniques cover a wide range of approaches. Some are directed towards detecting schistosome infections in snails, and some involve the detection of schistosomes (or snails) in water samples. In some cases, like shedding of snails, identifications of schistosomes can be undertaken using morphological criteria or by submitting them to molecular techniques. For some methods like eDNA, the process typically involves collecting a sample followed by extraction and the submission of the sample to some type of amplification protocol. The data supporting the scores provided in Table 2 are provided in S1 Table. The five criteria contributing to the overall certainty in the grade score provided were limitations, inconsistencies, imprecision, indirectness, and publication bias. As we did not detect the latter, it does not appear in the table. The remaining five columns (coverage, cost, support needs, species differentiation, and relevant detection limits) reflect our view of their importance, but they were not included in the GRADE scores. Note that by the GRADE criteria provided, many techniques were assessed as having very low or low overall certainty: in several cases, they reflect techniques reliant on older technology. Three techniques were scored as providing moderate certainty: LAMP, eDNA based techniques, and qPCR. One of the significant considerations diminishing confidence for several of the techniques was the lack of widescale testing and standardization considerations.

We used the numbers 0, -1, -2 to score every method, with 0 being adequate, -1, serious concern, -2 very serious concern. It is worth noting that publication bias is not part of this table, as we did not have any reason to suspect it has occurred with any of the methods. We defined species differentiation ability of each method as N.S = Nonspecific, H.S = Heterospecific, N.H.S = Narrowly Heterospecific, M.S = Monospecific. And relevant detection limits as Hig.S, High sensitivity, Mar.S = Marginal sensitivity, Ina.S = Inadequate sensitivity.

In S2 Table, following GRADE criteria, we present determinations of sensitivity and specificity using the definitions often applied to diagnostic techniques in the medical literature (see table legend for definitions). Insofar as most of the papers we reviewed simply did not provide this information, its relevance to our discussion is lessened. Lastly, in Table 3, with an eye on practical guidance, we provide an overview of the pros and cons of each of the techniques we classified.


How did this snail get here? Several dispersal vectors inferred for an aquatic invasive species

1. How species reach and persist in isolated habitats remains an open question in many cases, especially for rapidly spreading invasive species. This is particularly true for temporary freshwater ponds, which can be remote and may dry out annually, but may still harbour high biodiversity. Persistence in such habitats depends on recurrent colonisation or species survival capacity, and ponds therefore provide an ideal system to investigate dispersal and connectivity.

2. Here, we test the hypothesis that the wide distributions and invasive potential of aquatic snails is due to their ability to exploit several dispersal vectors in different landscapes. We explored the population structure of Physa acuta (recent synonyms: Haitia acuta, Physella acuta, Pulmonata: Gastropoda), an invasive aquatic snail originating from North America, but established in temporary ponds in Doñana National Park, southern Spain. In this area, snails face land barriers when attempting to colonise other suitable habitat.

3. Genetic analyses using six microsatellite loci from 271 snails in 21 sites indicated that (i) geographically and hydrologically isolated snail populations in the park were genetically similar to a large snail population in rice fields more than 15 km away (ii) these isolated ponds showed an isolation-by-distance pattern. This pattern broke down, however, for those ponds visited frequently by large mammals such as cattle, deer and wild boar (iii) snail populations were panmictic in flooded and hydrologically connected rice fields.

4. These results support the notion that aquatic snails disperse readily by direct water connections in the flooded rice fields, can be carried by waterbirds flying between the rice fields and the park and may disperse between ponds within the park by attaching to large mammals.

5. The potential for aquatic snails such as Physa acuta to exploit several dispersal vectors may contribute to their wide distribution on various continents and their success as invasive species. We suggest that the interaction between different dispersal vectors, their relation to specific habitats and consequences at different geographic scales should be considered both when attempting to control invasive freshwater species and when protecting endangered species.


Invasive Island Applesnail

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Nuisance Species team and its partner organizations are currently dealing with the highly invasive island applesnail, Pomacea insularum, which was recently discovered in a retention pond just southeast of Socastee, South Carolina. Scott Lamprecht, a SCDNR regional coordinator for the fisheries section was first contacted on May 5, 2008 concerning some large snails in the pond near Socastee. David Knott of the SCDNR Marine Division was first to affirmatively identify the snail as highly invasive, and he reported that on May 6 there were "lots of P. insularum egg clutches and three snails in one of several ponds”. The Aquatic Nuisance Species Program of SCDNR’s Land, Water, and Conservation Division was notified and a rapid response protocol was initiated. This protocol began on May 8 with an extensive survey of the site, along with repeated removal of any egg sacks and live specimens that were found. The Clemson Department of Plant Industry and the United States Department of Agriculture were subsequently notified, and specimens that were shipped to USDA labs for morphological and genetic analyses have confirmed the identification.

Additional surveys (MAP) of over 200 ponds in the area have confirmed infestation of about 35 ponds within approximately 4 miles of the original sighting. ANS staff, Walter Meitzen, Michael Hook, and Chris Page, initiated control measures which include application of molluscicides and have shown promising results in the control of this species. Additional monitoring, physical removal, and chemical control methods will continue to be employed to ensure control of this species where possible.

These snails are a tropical/subtropical species, not normally known to withstand water temperatures much below 50oF. However, they can withstand short periods of cold by burrowing into the muddy bottom of a waterbody. They are the most commonly introduced species in the southeastern US, but they were originally thought to be Pomacea canaliculata, commonly called the channeled applesnail. Their egg masses, about 1½ to 2 inches in length with up to 1000 eggs not much greater than 1/16th of an inch in diameter, are easily distinguished from those of P. canaliculata. They are pink to almost red in color, and are found attached to various hard substrates above the water line, including pilings, concrete water control structures, tree trunks and many types of emergent vegetation.

Three very closely related species in what is referred to as the “channeled applesnail complex” are considered to be among the world’s 100 worst invaders, according to the Global Invasive Species Database.

Pomacea insularum is now found, or introductions have occurred, in Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. However, it is the channeled applesnail, P. canaliculata, that causes most concern to agriculturists. This species is known to cause serious problems as a rice pest in many countries. Fortunately, the channeled applesnail is known to occur in the US only in Arizona, California, Hawaii and possibly Alabama. Indications are that this latest occurrence in Socastee is a release of aquarium pets, and not the natural spread of the more notorious channeled applesnail.

Potential impacts of introduced populations of the island applesnail (IAS) are broad reaching and can even have human health implications. Because they eat such a wide range of aquatic plants, IAS are a potential threat to South Carolina aquatic ecosystems. Infestations can be very dense and cover large areas, causing harm to the aquatic environment by destroying native plant species and drastically affecting the food web through their ability to kill or out-compete native snail species. Human health threats are also associated with this species. Although unlikely unless consumed, it has been shown to be a vector for disease and parasites such as the rat lungworm, which can cause fatal eosinophilic meningoencephalitis disease in humans. Snails can also cause skin irritations, since they are also intermediate hosts to other associated trematodes (flukes). Please do not handle specimens without gloves and never eat undercooked or raw snails.


Understanding the movement patterns of free-swimming marine snails

A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science is changing the way that biological oceanographers view the swimming and sinking behaviors of open ocean, or pelagic, snails. Pteropods and heteropods are small marine snails, most measuring on the order of millimeters to centimeters, that are found throughout the world's ocean from the surface to depths of 3000 feet (1000 meters). Although small in size, these organisms play a vital role in the ocean's food web and biogeochemical cycles, as well as the global carbon cycle.

Led by Ferhat Karakas, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida (USF), the study was co-authored by Jordan Wingate, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) intern at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) Leocadio Blanco-Bercial and Amy Maas, both associate scientists at BIOS and David Murphy an assistant professor at USF.

The study looked at the movements, or swimming kinematics, of nine species of warm water pelagic snails found in the waters off Bermuda: seven thecosome pteropods (which may have coiled, elongated, or globular shells), one gymnosome pteropod (which loses its juvenile shell during development), and one heteropod (which has a spiral shell). Pteropods, perhaps the most well-known among the pelagic snails, are often referred to as "sea butterflies," as their snail foot has evolved into a pair of wing-like appendages that appear to "flap" as they move through the water.

Historically, study of these delicate organisms has been difficult, as they cannot be grown and maintained in a laboratory environment. However, the proximity of BIOS to the open ocean allowed living organisms to be collected and transported back to shore in under than one hour.

Data collection began immediately upon return and most experiments were completed within one day of collection.

Using a low magnification, high speed 3-D photography system, the research team was able to study the swimming behaviors of the snails, developing detailed models showing their swimming paths (trajectories) through the water column, swimming speeds, "flapping" rates of their appendages, and even the speeds at which they sank and how their shells were oriented as they did so.

"While different large-scale swimming patterns were observed, all species exhibited small-scale sawtooth-shaped swimming trajectories caused by reciprocal appendage flapping," Blanco Bercial said.

The researchers then analyzed zooplankton samples collected from the surface to 3000 feet (1000 meters) with a MOCNESS net system (an array of long, tapered nets and sensors towed behind a research vessel) to determine the abundance and distribution of these organisms off Bermuda. When combined with molecular data and imaging using ZooScan, a device used to make digital images of zooplankton, the team was also able to relate swimming behaviors to night time and day time vertical distributions. Larger species sank down and swam up much faster and could be active at much greater depths, whereas the slower and smaller species were limited to shallower depths. This indicates that size does play a role in the vertical structure of habitat, as well as in predator-prey interactions.

"This project combined the expertise of engineers, molecular biologists, and ecologists, as well as a variety of different technologies, to look at the movement, ecology, and distribution of this beautiful group of organisms," Maas said. "This type of transdisciplinary collaboration doesn't happen very often and it allowed us to learn about an aspect of ocean science that has previously been understudied."

Adding to the uniqueness of this investigation is the role of the study's second author, Jordan Wingate, who was an NSF REU intern at BIOS in 2018 while attending Georgia Military College. During the course of her three-month internship, Wingate worked with Maas on a project that became the basis for this paper, eventually presenting the results of their research at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California.

"I feel so accomplished to be a published author in a peer-reviewed scientific journal as an undergraduate student," said Wingate, who will graduate from the University of West Florida in the fall of 2021 with a bachelor's degree in marine biology. "I was very fortunate to be able to see this project through from start to finish and I'm grateful to Amy for her mentorship and guidance as I worked through the challenges of learning about pteropods, new computer programming languages, and the data analysis skills required to get this study published."