Friday, December 16, 2011

"More than Meets the Claw" OR "How Emily Ruined Christmas with Snails"

Thanks Santa Oyster Drill! This is the best Christmas EVAR!

Every year when I was growing up, I asked for a pony for Christmas.  Never sincerely, of course, because those things are heinously expensive.  But the request was good for a laugh/groan - I am the youngest and my "jokes" were probably humored to excess (this might explain why I have a blog).  My parents were always extremely generous in supporting my horse habit, but since ownership was out of the budget, instead there would be a joke about the pony not fitting in the garage, or some miscommunication and Santa thought I meant a pony ornament, etc.  

This year I got my metaphorical pony - in the form of a

True, it hasn't been on my list as long as the pony, but I asked Santa SO HARD for a first-authored publication.  Theodore and his brothers ain't got nothin' on my Christmas wishin'.  Now entered into the prestigious Annals of Never Again Cited Research:

That's right! Grason and Miner (2010) just got all up in your face! It's such a big deal it doesn't even fit in the column.  It's still only available on Online First, but will appear in print sometime next year (and get it's very own volume and page numbers! eeeeee!).  

Since many of you won't have access to the full text (open access is not free, my friends), I'll summarize.  In the spirit of the season, and with only minimal apologies for ruining Christmas for everyone, here is:

Emily's Christmas Pageant
The Ecology of Fear: Rudolph Redux

Act I: Two kinds of invasive snails (here depicted as Rudolph) eat fewer oysters (here depicted as a little tree Rudolph was inevitably going to otherwise eat) and hide more when they smell native crabs (here, the Abominable Snowman) eating their brethren.   Merry Christmas to oysters!

Where is Yukon Cornelius when you need him?!

Act II, Scene 1: One kind of snail (only one tested) responds strongly even if it only detects smashed up brethren (no crabs around).

I'm only a little sorry if the graphic nature of this offends you.  Nature doesn't
really worry itself about your childhood memories.  Nature is for real.

Act II, Scene 2: But that snail also does respond to the native crab even when no bretheren are involved.

(to soothe the crying kiddos)

Act 3: Neither kind of snail responds less when there are more live brethren around to share the risk (see post on the ecology of awesomeness for more detail on why this matters).

Nothing like killing off the most cherished Christmas symbol to put you in the Holiday spirit!  I'm evidently feeling punchy today. 

Speaking of punchy, I wanted to title this paper, "More than Meets the Claw: Behavioral plasticity... blah blah blah".  I thought this was  a clever reference to the fact that without actually eating the snails, crabs can change the ecological dynamics in the system (more oysters, yay!), and to a popular 80's cartoon.  Academia has a different take on clever, so I went with a more direct title (*cough, cough, SELLOUT!*).  

In all seriousness, I am much indebted to my former advisor and co-author, Ben Miner for telling me to stick to my guns as long as was reasonable and then maybe figure out how to be flexible and take recommendations from the reviewers.  I joke when I say this publication came from Santa, I made this happen with the quixotic tenacity peculiar to junior graduate students.  This was not an easy process, and took about 18 months from the time of first submission.  I would have given up waaaay sooner if not for Ben, or maybe just submitted it to Veliger.  

First: Oecologia, then: THE WORLD!

Wishing y'all happy holidaysmas2011!

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, this is wonderful news! This so fantastic, in fact, that one of your silent faithful readers will BREAK that silence today to shout "congrats" with all caps. Ready for it?

    2012 is going to be awesome!