27 October 2009

Great moments in crayfish music: The Soul Cages

This may be the only song in living memory by a major musician to mention crayfish in the lyrics.

Listen to the first verse, and you’ll hear:

And the chaos of cages where the crayfish lie

20 October 2009

Vogt, 2009

Handbook on LongevityVogt G. 2009. Research on aging and longevity in the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish, with special emphasis on stochastic developmental variation, allocation of metabolic resources, regeneration,
and social ctress. In: Bentely JV, Keller MA (eds), Handbook on Longevity: Genetics, Diet and Disease, pp. 353-372. Nova Science Publishers: Hauppauge.
ISBN: 978-1-60741-075-1


This article presents first results on aging and longevity in the marbled crayfish, an isogenic invertebrate with indeterminate growth. The marbled crayfish is the only known parthenogenetic species of more than 10.000 decapod crustaceans and has a maximal life span of roughly 3.5 years. Its main advantages, aside from genetically identical offspring and lifelong growth, are the alternation of growth and reproduction phases, a high regeneration capacity and easy handling in the laboratory. In a group of seven genetically identical batch-mates life span varied from 437 to 910 days although the sibs were communally reared and fed ad libitum with the same pellet food. In the same group there was no clear-cut relationship between longevity and growth or reproduction frequency. However, the specimen with the lowest life span showed fast growth, early onset of reproduction, and short time intervals between reproduction cycles. Damages like loss of appendages were repaired and did not negatively affect longevity. Social stress, in contrast, shortened life expectancy. The biological peculiarities of the marbled crayfish and the data obtained so far argue for a more intense use of this animal in research on aging and longevity.

Keywords: None provided.

13 October 2009


ScoopThe most recent paper concerning Marmorkrebs says:

While this manuscript was being prepared, Jones et al. (2008) (sic) published an account of a molecular study identifying crayfish specimens collected in Madagascar as Marmorkrebs.

Kawai and colleagues are pleasant about it in the paper, but the bottom line is that they got scooped. While they were themselves scooped, they unwittingly also scooped another author, namely me.

I’d been doing some preliminary work on a morphological description of Marmorkrebs, for the same reason presented in the new paper: to aid identification. While I wasn’t terribly far along in the process, I did have data recorded. It was more than just an idle, “Oh, I’ll do it some day.”

Crustacean biology has both the blessing and curse of usually being a slow-moving field. Progress is measured in years and decades rather than months. This means that scoops are rarely an issue. The Marmorkrebs story is one that has moved unusually fast, and those of us working with this organism probably need to take account of that.

I’ve also conducted and published research on ascidians, and I was impressed me by how that research community seemed organized and generally cohesive. At their meeting, they would arrange informal “working groups” to cooperatively plot out some of the research plans so that the projects in different labs were complementing rather than competing. The ascidian community realized there are benefits to community and communication.

There is more than enough research on Marmorkrebs to do that there should be some way to ensure that we don’t waste time duplicating our efforts.

12 October 2009

Oh dear... Madagascar not worried about crayfish, for wrong reasons

Back in March, I wrote:

Sadly, an invasive crayfish species is currently a very small problem for researchers and others concerned with the island. The country is in turmoil politically.

Half a year hasn’t improved matters much. A new piece in New Scientist says political instability is continues to threaten Madagascar’s biological treasures.

Since a military coup forced the president to resign in March, conservationists and biologists have watched as loggers have stripped the country’s forests and killed its animals for bushmeat. ...

(A)t the very least, 120 rosewood and ebony trees, worth an estimated $480,000, are being taken out of Masoala, Madagascar's largest national park, each day. At least thirteen illegal traders, known locally as the “rosewood Mafia,” buy the wood and export it, mostly to China. Conservationists say the logging is destroying the island’s national parks and having knock-on effects on the forest's animals.

Emphasis added.

06 October 2009

Submit to Circus of the Spineless!

Next month, I am pleased to host the Circus of the Spineless carnival on this blog. Submit your squishy and / or crunchy blog links to me throughout October, so we’ll be ready to roll at the start of November!