How do shells vary through space and time?
My PhD project is funded within the CACHE network. I study shells; analysing their thickness, shape, size and composition. These characteristics can vary significantly within species, depending on where they live and these are all strongly influenced by the local conditions. Understanding how shells vary in the natural environment is essential if we are to accurately predict how these animals will be affected when the environment changes. For example, if the sea warms up, will shells be thicker or thinner? We can test this by examining shells in animals from the Arctic, where sea temperatures can vary between freezing in winter and 6-8°C in the summer) and comparing them with animals from off the coast of Portugal (temperatures from 12°C in winter and summer temperatures of up to 27°C in the lagoon by the research station).
By studying the composition of shells from the same species obtained from different environments we can identify how local environmental conditions affect shell production and also identify if there are genetic factors associated with any observed differences. This will enable us to identify potentially resilient populations which can be selectively bred for future aquaculture production.
We will also study museum collections. This historic data will provide comparisons allowing us to address any evolutionary scale changes in shell structure and composition in the last 4 million years, during which there were considerable changes in the Earth’s climate.
Vendrami, David L.J., De Noia, Michele, Telesca, Luca, Handal, William, Charrier, Grégory, Boudry, Pierre, Eberhart-Phillips, Luke, Hoffman, Joseph I.. (2019) RAD sequencing sheds new light on the genetic structure and local adaptation of European scallops and resolves their demographic histories. Scientific Reports, 9. 13 pp. 10.1038/s41598-019-43939-4
Vendrami, David L.J., Houston, Ross D., Gharbi, Karim, Telesca, Luca, Gutierrez, Alejandro P., Gurney-Smith, Helen, Hasegawa, Natsuki, Boudry, Pierre, Hoffmann, Joseph I.. (2019) Detailed insights into pan‐European population structure and inbreeding in wild and hatchery Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) populations revealed by genome‐wide SNP data. Evolutionary Applications, 12. 519-534. 10.1111/eva.12736
Telesca, Luca, Michalek, Kati, Sanders, Trystan, Peck, Lloyd S., Thyrring, Jakob, Harper, Elizabeth M.. (2018) Blue mussel shell shape plasticity and natural environments: a quantitative approach. Scientific Reports, 8. 15 pp. 10.1038/s41598-018-20122-9
Blue mussel shape is a powerful indicator for environmental change
News 13 February, 2018