Will My Wood Research Be Poplar?

Video frame grabI wooden dream of having a post full of wood puns.  On the other hand my alder ego often gets the best of me and I may have to cherry pick a few.  I am participating in the new round of SciFund Challenge.  I am hoping yew (I can’t help myself) will help me support some research on wood falls.  Details will be coming soon about how you can contribute! Fir now I have link roundup with my and my collaborator’s recent posts on this cool research.

Not to board you with more but below is a gallery of images that I think will spruce up the post.   The photos are from wood falls nearly two miles deep on the Pacific seafloor and many are courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.  I hope I left you pining for more.



My collaborators Jim Barry and Chris Lovera inspect a collection bag for the wood falls


The siphon of wood boring bivalve Xylopyolas sp. notable because of the protective plates at the end


A species of minute snail (<3mm) found on the wood falls


Xylophaga concava, a species of wood boring bivalve. With a shell unlike other clams the siphon is also much larger than the shell


The elegant damage done by wood-boring bivalves on a log


The benthic elevator sets on the back deck of the Western Flyer as we depart from Moss Landing


Here I am shiving wood for science


The golden setae (hairs) of this worm make it one of the more charismatic invertebrates from the wood falls


Me carefully picking invertebrates out of bored log


My favorite snail from the wood falls because of its milky white color


Kurt Buck looks over my work as pick invertebrates from the log.


The ROV Doc Ricketts being deployed through a moon pool on the Western Flyer like a bond villian


The remains of log that spent 7 years on the deep-sea floor


More Bond like robots and moon pools


This worm is the craziest looking organism that occurs on the wood falls


Elephant trunk? Nope. Siphon from a wood-boring bivalve

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Tiny hydroids take up residence on the polypropylene rope on the wood fall

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A grayish colored halo forms around wood falls. This represents an area of immense bacterial action feeding off wood bits and feces coming out of the wood fall.

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Sea cucumbers, Amperima, stretch out their tentacles to feed in the sediment nearby


The foreboding last minute before I collect this squat lobster with the suction sampler

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Even through the mesh it is clear to see that the log has been bored.

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Benthic elevator on the bottom holding the collection bags with the wood falls in them.

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The urchin Tromikosoma. Note the awesome club spines

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Another bored wood fall

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A scale worm crawls on the outside of the wood fall

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Several squat lobsters remain after a wood fall is collected

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Sea cucumbers, Amperima, and Xenophyophores, a large unicellular organism, dot the seafloor near the wood falls

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A fluffy mound of wood-boring bivalve feces (orange specks), wood bits, and bacteria. A feeding white snail finds this an enjoyable snack.

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A fish with a fungal infection swims over one of the wood falls

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A squat lobster covered in bacteria and sediment tries to hide

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A squat lobster stands gaurd

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ROV collecting sediment cores

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Now time to grab the wood fall

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A squat lobster feeding on a wood fall

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This squat lobster does not seem amused


A log seven years ago before being deployed to the deep-sea floor

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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11 comments on “Will My Wood Research Be Poplar?
  1. Silly question born from genuine curiosity: in the absence of wood, what do those wood boring bivalves eat?

    • Not a silly question at all. Once a wood fall arrives to the deep-sea floor larvae settle it on it. The organisms live their entire life until death on the wood fall. However, we really don’t know much about the life cycles of the animals or the cycle of the community itself.

  2. Pingback: Q&A With A Scientist: Why Is This Marine Biologist Throwing Logs Into The Ocean? | ToqTech

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