29 December 2009

2009 was tied for the best year ever in Marmorkrebs research

I’m going to take a risk that another paper about Marmorkrebs is not going to come to my attention in the next three days.

I admit to being a little disappointed, because I thought around this time last year that the line would be continuing an upward trend, rather than staying flat.

23 December 2009

Invertebrate Rearing, a new journal

A new journal is a tricky thing to get up and running, so I am pleased to plug Invertebrate Rearing. Editor Ed Baker is getting the first issue ready to go, and you can still get something in for the first issue if you submit by 10 January 2010.

This journal may have in an unfilled niche in the realm of animal care professionals. My impression is that most of the journals in this field tend to focus mammals or fish, with those working on fish usually having a strong aquaculture emphasis rather than research.

Collecting invertebrates

There has been plenty of reason to discuss the pet trade on this blog, mainly in the context of accidental release of unwanted pets like crayfish. It is just as important to realize, however, that there are also problems at the other end of the pet trade pipeline. For that reason, I wanted to put in a quick pointer to a new article on invertebrate collection for the pet trade. You can also find a brief summary at the Conservation Maven blog.

22 December 2009

If Cosmo had a crayfish edition

One of my students informed me that she’d seen a crayfish in a recent issue of news stand favourite, Cosmopolitan.* This got me thinking about the kind of articles that might be accompanying the photo...

The best SEX you’ve NEVER had: Is parthenogenesis for you?”

Marbled is the new black: Sexy crustie winter colours”

“Jet set: The glamorous life of an invasive species”

“Swamp fever: The truth about hybridization”

“Do these claws make my uropods look fat? Dieting and your rigid exoskeleton”

10 swimmeret secrets that will drive him wild!”

* I was unable to get a copy of the original picture, because I was not comfortable reading through every page of Cosmo while standing in the line at Wal-Mart.

16 December 2009

Crayfish of Crater Lake

Just a quick pointer to the Wild Muse blog, which has a nifty story about Native American legends about crayfish in Crater Lake, and the real species living there.

15 December 2009

Crayfish in Canada

I’ve updated the web page listing North American laws on crayfish to include all the Canadian provinces. It appears that Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ontario have laws concerning crayfish use, with Manitoba and Saskatchewan having fairly broad prohibitions.

While I’m here, I’ll note that I’ve moved the files for the main websites, Marmorkrebs.org and MarbledCrayfish.org, from a commercial server to one provided by my academic institution. This change should be unnoticeable, but there’s always the possibility that things will get confused in the transition. If you want to make sure you’re seeing the most recent files, the direct link is:


08 December 2009

Genome research: good idea, bad idea

ResearchBlogging.orgGood idea: A paper in the Journal of Heredity proposes sequencing 10,000 genomes...

Bad idea: ...of vertebrates.

Okay, I’ll admit that isn’t strictly a bad idea. But it certainly leaves something to be desired, given that a news article in Science characterized this plan as, “No genome left behind.” But of course, it leaves a tremendous number of genomes behind, namely, every single invertebrate. What are the current estimates for number of vertebrate species? Maybe 60,000 or so? The crustaceans alone probably have about the same number of species. The number of vertebrate species is not even close to the number of beetle species.

The paper provides no rationale for doing such a massive scan of the vertebrate genomes alone as opposed to a project that would include the invertebrates. Indeed, the word “invertebrates” appears only once, in reference to fisheries.

In fairness, I actually do think it’s great that these researchers are working together and suggesting a big, bold scheme. I’ve made no secret that I want a crayfish genome project. With this 10K genome paper, maybe it’s time to start thinking about a larger scale invertebrate genome sequencing project that will cover the rest of the animal kingdom, even though it’s obviously not possible to do the same level of coverage as the small vertebrate sub-phylum.


Genome 10K Community of Scientists. (2009). Genome 10K: A Proposal to Obtain Whole-Genome Sequence for 10 000 Vertebrate Species Journal of Heredity, 100 (6), 659-674 DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esp086

Pennisi, E. (2009). No Genome Left Behind Science, 326 (5954), 794-795 DOI: 10.1126/science.326_794

05 December 2009

Pic of the moment: 5 December 2009

This is a sick crayfish. As readers may know, I am not a pathologist or parasitologist, so I have little idea what these black spots may be or how to combat them. We’ve definitely had some animals die prematurely due to whatever these are. Any information would be most welcome!