Ideas for undergraduate research project in Oahu, Hawaii

shipposhack

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#1
Before I graduate from school next April I have to complete an undergraduate research project of my choice. I am at school at Brigham Young University - Hawaii, on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. I am most interested in studying cuttlefish in the future, but the closest Hawaii has are bobtail squid.

I have been trying to think of a worthwhile research project that would be impressive to any graduate school I apply for, but I am not sure where to start. At the moment my project is about testing the range of colors and patterns O. cyanea, the Hawaiian Day Octopus, is able to produce. I want to test different colored backgrounds in an aquarium to see how they react. However, I am not very excited about this project.

I have been very interested in bobtail squid recently and know where I can catch some. Their bioluminescence extremely interesting to me, and I would like to do a project on that, but again I am not sure what to do. Also bobtail squid might be better to study now since I want to study cuttlefish later.

I only have about a year to complete the project and there isn't much funding. I don't expect to do anything groundbreaking, but I would like to do something helpful to the ceph and science community. I am looking for suggestions of projects that may be useful and accomplishable according to my circumstances, and of course something I am excited about. I appreciate whatever help you may be able to give me. Thanks in advance!

Nick
 

DWhatley

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#2
Nice to hear from you Nick. I can't imagine being bored working with a cyanea :roll:

Could you do something to show/discover how the bobtails use their bioluminescence by alternating shadow and "moonlight" above (both below would be interesting but not likely viable to catch on film or even view)? You will need a night viewing camera for pretty much anything with these guys from what I understand and any use of artificial lights would likely overwhelm what you are trying to photograph. If you try to photograph from underneath you may be able to set continuous time delay shots but I don't know of any remotes that will work with the camera in the water.
 

Taollan

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#3
Nick,
I might be able to help you dream up some project ideas. First let me get a feel for your interests. For a moment, forgetting about the animals that you are studying, what disciplines in biology interest you the most? Behavior, ecology, evolution, physiology, or something else? What biology classes during your undergraduate time did you enjoy the most and why?
 

shipposhack

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#4
DWhatley, thanks for the suggestions and tips on working with bobtail squid. I'll try to look into some of the technical aspects and see if I can come up with something that would work.

Taollan, I am most interested in behaviour/intelligence. Second would probably be adaptations/evolution. I am also interested in symbiosis. I really liked my zoology class. We had to learn a lot of phlya and their characteristics, as well as lower taxonomic classifications. It was hard, but it was fun to see how things were related and find common characteristics. As we learned about classifications we went through the evolutionary tree to see how animals slowly adapted to new environments. My other two favourite classes have been most focused on marine organisms - marine biology and marine natural history. In marine biology we went around the island every class period and collected animals, then brought them back and identified them. Marine natural history is similar to my zoology class, but more focused on marine organisms specifically (there is a lot of overlap). I have yet to take an animal behaviour class, but plan to next year. Thanks for your help!
 

Taollan

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#8
Nick,
Sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you, last week was a bit crazy. So what if you did some work on social interactions of Euprymna? I did a cursory literature search on social interactions of Eurprymna and did come up with anything. I think initially what you could do on the cheap would be to get a cheap webcam, and a laptop to record movement by multiple Eupymna in a tank (say a shallow-ish tank with the camera above). You can set up the camera/laptop to capture an image of the tank every second, then use some free software like ImageJ to do some automated tracking of movement of the individuals in the tank. Once you have digitized movement data, you can start to do some nice statistics on whether the Euprymna are avoiding each other, spending more time near each other than random chance would indicate, etc. Also, if there are social interactions, getting some video of that to quantify chromatophore displays, behaviors, etc during those interactions would be pretty novel from what I can tell. If this is something that you would like to pursue, I would be happy to talk with you about it in some more detail, or if you aren't interested, I would be happy to help come up with some other ideas. All I could find in my brief search on Euprymna behavior was these three articles:
http://labs.medmicro.wisc.edu/mcfall_ruby_papers/pdf/1983/Moynihan_1983_Behavior.pdf
http://mollus.oxfordjournals.org/content/62/4/543.full.pdf
http://mollus.oxfordjournals.org/content/79/3/263.short

Let me know your thoughts.
 

shipposhack

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#10
Taollan - The social interactions of Euprymna does sound like an interesting project. I would be interested in talking more about it with you. I started reading one of those articles and it was very interesting, but basic. I apologize for taking so long to reply, finals just finished, so I was pretty slammed the past month.

DWhatley - Thanks for the links.

Good news! I began working with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture today about getting a permit for Sepia mestus, the reaper cuttlefish. I am really hoping this works out. I would be the first one in Hawaii to import cuttlefish, so it would take at least 3 months for them to go through the rules about keeping them. I am still going to work on another project while I wait, in case it doesn't end up happening. I've emailed several Australian collectors who ship worldwide, but does anyone here know how I might be able to get some Sepia mestus (preferably eggs)? Thanks for all your help!
 

shipposhack

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#12
I think I just found a source for S. mestus eggs! :) Has anybody seen these before? Although they can get them, they are not sure how to tell if they are from S. mestus or another species.

Dwhatley, I can't see the post.
 

DWhatley

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#14
Sorry, the post was blocked before you looked (I told you to be quick :wink:). The poster was offering cuttles for sale as his only point of joining and that is not (for excellent reasons) within our guidelines. I should have blocked it myself but since you are doing this for academics I kind of let it sit for someone else to block :oops:
 

cuttlegirl

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#16
Shipposhack, you are not the first to import cuttlefish to Hawaii, unless you meant Sepia mestus. I imported Sepia officinalis for my research project with the University of Hawaii and the Waikiki Aquarium has imported different cephalopods for years...
 

shipposhack

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#17
Interesting Cuttlegirl, I was told only one other person has tried to import Sepia sp. to Hawaii and that the request was canceled. Ill have to look more into that. If you wouldn't mind, could you post or message me about what you had to do to get officinalis here? I would greatly appreciate it.
 

Taollan

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#18
Shippo,
No problem with the late reply, I know how it can go sometimes. Just let me know if you want to talk about potential projects more, I would be happy to help however I am able. And you are right, those papers are pretty basic, which means there is still a lot of work to be done in the area!
 

FatFish

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#19
What about doing some rearing trials? If you do a quick google scholar search you'll see that a lot of the focus has been on larval rearing, both for insight on their life history, and for investigating commercial viability.

If you do go this route, I can help you out. I work at Anuenue Fisheries Research Center down at Sand Island. A bit far away but we have plenty of open tanks...
 

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