Saturday, December 29, 2012


#art fart Bart

November and December have flown by. Autumn was productive, with six graduate applications and two major grant proposals submitted. Winter will be considerably calmer, I hope. January and February are the lull before another month of travel in March, and grad decisions in April. I'm itching to explore beyond the city walls-to see a world  across the sea. For now though, Los Angeles is home. Hurray for a few quiet months before leaping back into the frenzy of it all.

Listening to The XX today- Swept Away:
  Swept Away by The xx on Grooveshark

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cool Tool: Flickr WorldMap

Flickr is my go-to photo sharing site, but can also be overwhelming for sheer image volume. The extent of photo curation varies widely between users too, with some people uploading fully geotagged and sorted work, and others lumping all images together without a word of what, where, or when. In this sense, image hunting on flickr is not unlike digging for sweaters at the bargain barn. 

 One tool that has made my flickr questing much more productive is the Flickr WorldMap
Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 10.21.09 PM

 Every flickr image that is tagged with GPS coordinates shows up on the map. You can search by keyword and location, filtering out the miscellaneous bits you're not in the mood to see.

 Tonight I am performing a search for "dragonet". Dragonets are small, beautiful fish that live in tropical seas. I am specifically interested in images of wild dragonets, but since these critters are popular in aquariums, I will likely get a ton of hobbyist photos too.

 Each purple dot on the map above corresponds to GPS coordinates where dragonet photo(s) were taken. Since these are not freshwater fish, the purple dots on mainland North America and Europe are probably photos from aquariums. The purple dots from Indonesia are more attractive to me, because Indonesia is full of coral reefs, and is a popular vacation destination for scuba divers.

Mandarin Fish Mating

Et voila! A photo of wild dragonets from user PacificKlaus, found easily with global search. Hope this helps, and happy hunting. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Isolation and Speciation

It is long-established that marine organisms evolve through geographic isolation. When a population is physically divided (by distance, depth, temperature, or salinity), factions cannot interbreed, and become genetically distinct over time. New species form from a single ancestral population. 

Many studies invoke geographic isolation as THE singular factor in marine speciation, but the story is likely much more complex. The ocean has no walls, and many species can drift thousands of miles as surface-dwelling larvae before developing into free-swimming adults. Perhaps marine physical barriers are more porous than once anticipated. Genes do move between geographically separate populations, with the rate of genetic exchange informing the speed and extent of reproductive isolation. 

 Understanding the patterns of genetic exchange between geographically distinct marine populations is a priority in evolutionary biology. With the rapid advancement of molecular techniques in the last 40 years, there has been a proliferation of work on speciation, but further research is needed to grasp the drivers of evolution at sea. 
(Larval Monkfish, Lophius vomerinus)
From Innovations Report
(Adult Monkfish, Lophius vomerinus). 
From WWF Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative