Studies of light and the distribution of Puget Sound sea squirts: A vehicle for coupling research programs and undergraduate education at the Shannon Point Marine Center.

Brian Bingham, Ph.D.
Shannon Point Marine Center

Wednesday, June 13, 2001
3:00–Pacific Forum

Research has clearly demonstrated the harmful effects of UV radiation. UV affects reproduction, growth, and survival of many plants and animals. Work at the Shannon Point Marine Center is demonstrating that sea squirts are particularly vulnerable. Solar radiation can have rapid lethal effects on eggs, embryos, larvae, juveniles, and adults. The damaging effects are not restricted to UVB. UVA and low-wavelength visible light can also be very harmful. The vulnerability of sea squirt species varies enormously, particularly in regards to the life-history stages that are most affected. Differences in sensitivity are associated with specific anatomical, behavioral, and life-history traits of individual species.

Research on this topic has proven an excellent way to involve university students in scientific research. The research questions touch on issues ranging from ozone depletion and global climate change to basic ecology and conservation of marine diversity. As such, the work appeals to students with a variety of backgrounds and interests. Studying sea squirts and light, undergraduate students at the Shannon Point Marine Center are learning about research while contributing to our understanding of marine systems.

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