Hannah Waters

31 posts · 58,581 views

My scientific interests veer towards ecology and evolution. I've done shorebird conservation work on the Maine coast, seabird trophic interaction research on the Oregon coast, and leaf-cutter ant distribution research in the Costa Rican rainforest. I also have strong feelings for paleoecology and paleoclimateology. Some questions I often ponder: How can the scientific community make actual progress? Is science really objective? Is the work I'm doing actually productive for society? Feel free to drop me a line at culturingscience [at] gmail [dot] com

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  • May 5, 2011
  • 01:15 AM

Swarms of tasty cicadas don’t help the birds — what gives?

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Every thirteen years they come. After over a decade underground, they build burrows to the earth’s surface and emerge in synchrony, clawing and crawling up through the soil, rip their skins down the back and are reborn as adults. And after a month, they will be dead, whether consumed by the animals awaiting their arrival [...]... Read more »

Koenig, W., & Liebhold, A. (2003) Regional impacts of periodical cicadas on oak radial increment. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 33(6), 1084-1089. DOI: 10.1139/X03-037  

Lehmann-Ziebarth, N., Heideman, P., Shapiro, R., Stoddart, S., Hsiao, C., Stephenson, G., Milewski, P., & Ives, A. (2005) EVOLUTION OF PERIODICITY IN PERIODICAL CICADAS. Ecology, 86(12), 3200-3211. DOI: 10.1890/04-1615  

  • March 2, 2011
  • 01:41 AM

Natural history collections in ecological research

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Once I dreamed a dream of being an evolutionary biologist.  As I imagined it, I would hang out in a natural history museum, comparing fossils to one another, taking notes on the minute differences, and piecing together the history of life. It wasn’t until a job fair years ago, when I babbled to an evolutionary [...]... Read more »

Barnes, D., Kuklinski, P., Jackson, J., Keel, G., Morley, S., & Winston, J. (2011) Scott's collections help reveal accelerating marine life growth in Antarctica. Current Biology, 21(4). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.033  

Parker, P., Buckles, E., Farrington, H., Petren, K., Whiteman, N., Ricklefs, R., Bollmer, J., & Jiménez-Uzcátegui, G. (2011) 110 Years of Avipoxvirus in the Galapagos Islands. PLoS ONE, 6(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015989  

  • February 8, 2011
  • 11:20 PM

The many relationships of leaf-cutter ants

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Trying to capture the movement of a colony of leaf-cutter ants in a single photo is nearly impossible in my (amateur) experience.  The queues of ants follow a worn-down trail in the ground that they themselves made with the impact of their little ant feet.  There are ants moving in both directions, between the food [...]... Read more »

  • February 1, 2011
  • 09:34 AM

Self-Help for Seabirds: How to manage your time and outcompete your neighbors for maximum survival

by Hannah Waters in Sleeping with the Fishes

Last night was my first night in NYC and, as such, it was my first experience with modern-day human foraging: the Trader Joes in Chelsea at 7:30 pm.  Despite the many shelves previously stuffed with various types of bagged lettuce, there was NO LETTUCE LEFT.  No granola bars.  The customers were nasty, ramming their carts into me to get to the dried cranberries.  While sometimes I’ve been to groceries that have been out of a particular item I wanted, I have never thought to myself, &#........ Read more »

Masello, J., Mundry, R., Poisbleau, M., Demongin, L., Voigt, C., Wikelski, M., & Quillfeldt, P. (2010) Diving seabirds share foraging space and time within and among species. Ecosphere, 1(6). DOI: 10.1890/ES10-00103.1  

  • January 5, 2011
  • 11:58 AM

When adaptation doesn’t happen

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

“Evolutionary biology has been enriched by considering not only how adaptation happens, but also why it often does not happen, or at least does not happen as we might naively expect.” - Douglas Futuyma (2010) In 2005, a group of … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • December 8, 2010
  • 10:49 AM

How clownfish help their anemones: nutrient transfer in a triple symbiosis

by Hannah Waters in Sleeping with the Fishes

The vision of a tropical beach is something we take for granted: the white sands, crystal blue water, and colorful, diverse reefs.  It’s like a playground designed just for us where everything is beautiful and comfortable (well, minus the sunburn).  But we actually shouldn’t take this for granted, as the existence of coral reefs in warm tropical waters is not a give-in, but rather the result of millions of years of slow evolution and coevolution to cope with this nutrient-poor ha........ Read more »

Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2005) Low coral cover in a high-CO2 world . Journal of Geophysical Research, 110(C9). DOI: 10.1029/2004JC002528  

L. Muscatine, & James W. Porter. (1977) Reef Corals: Mutualistic Symbioses Adapted to Nutrient-Poor Environments. Bioscience, 27(7), 454-460. info:other/

Wood, R. (1998) The Ecological Evolution of Reefs. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 29(1), 179-206. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.29.1.179  

  • December 1, 2010
  • 04:18 PM

Tiny tunicate throws structure to the wind

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Today I bring you something extra special: A guest post from Lucas Brouwers of the world-famous blog Thoughtomics.  He loves genomes, I love plankton, and you get a great story involving spaceships, genomic party crashers, and, of course, a planktonic … Continue reading →... Read more »

Denoeud F, Henriet S, Mungpakdee S, Aury JM, Da Silva C, Brinkmann H, Mikhaleva J, Olsen LC, Jubin C, Cañestro C.... (2010) Plasticity of Animal Genome Architecture Unmasked by Rapid Evolution of a Pelagic Tunicate. Science (New York, N.Y.). PMID: 21097902  

  • December 1, 2010
  • 02:09 PM

Coddle me, please: parallel evolution and fishery management in Atlantic cod

by Hannah Waters in Sleeping with the Fishes

Historically, perhaps due to human interest in maximizing fishing activity, we have assumed that there is a great deal of gene flow in marine populations.  This assumption allowed us to maximize fishing efforts without guilt, since a large, ocean-wide population would allow fish from other parts of the world to refill populations that we had reduced by overfishing.  But you know what they say about assumptions: they make an ASS out of U and ME.  Thus marine biologists have taken an interest ........ Read more »

  • November 5, 2010
  • 12:50 PM

If you feed them, they will come: the effects of nitrogen fertilization on community composition in a salt marsh

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Eutrophication has gained a pretty bad reputation considering that it is a natural process.  The word itself comes from the Greek “eutrophia” which means “healthy” and simply means the addition of nutrients into an ecosystem encouraging plant growth.  Of course, … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 27, 2010
  • 04:04 PM

The grand diversity of marine phytoplankton species: focusing from space

by Hannah Waters in Sleeping with the Fishes

In a recent email exchange with a (skeptically) wonderful blogger about why we are interested in what we are and where past/current biases lie, I wrote that I “grew up wanting to look at the planet from space.”  This is true in multiple senses: my drive to seek patterns in collected studies and data, and also my interest in large-scale ecology generally. But, of course, we can actually look at the planet from space!  And collect data at the same time!  Via the wonder of SATELLIT........ Read more »

d'Ovidio, F., De Monte, S., Alvain, S., Dandonneau, Y., & Levy, M. (2010) Fluid dynamical niches of phytoplankton types. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(43), 18366-18370. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1004620107  

  • October 20, 2010
  • 03:32 PM

The Allee effect in action: why endangered Vancouver Island marmots are struggling to recover

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

There are under 200 California condors alive in the wild.  There are under 600 wild Ethiopian wolves.  There are around 3500 wild tigers and under 5500 African wild dogs outside of zoos. It has been ingrained in all of us … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 5, 2010
  • 12:46 PM

Seabirds as indicators of marine ecosystem health: an introduction

by Hannah Waters in Sleeping with the Fishes

The primary reason for studying marine ecology is for ecosystem and resource management.  Over half of the human population lives in the coastal zone, and we all are dependent on the ocean, either for food resources of simply because phytoplankton are responsible for the production of nearly half of atmospheric oxygen.  Add to that the great biodiversity of marine life and its sheer beauty… and we have a resource that we should all be dedicated to conserving and protecting. Research cr........ Read more »

D. K. Cairns. (1987) Seabirds as indicators of marine food supplies. Biological Oceanography, 261-271. info:/

  • September 29, 2010
  • 09:52 AM

The evolution of the eukaryotes and our human story

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

“Taxonomy and classification are funny,” my father joked recently, “because the organisms being classified really don’t care what they are. We’re the only ones who care!” Well, at least I thought it was a good joke.  And it speaks to … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • September 17, 2010
  • 11:33 AM

Can seabirds overfish a resource? The case of cormorants in Estonia

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

“Overfishing” is a term associated with resource depletion, extinction, and human greed.  While the definition of overfishing is technically a subjective measure (How much fishing is too much?), it has been widely accepted to mean catching more of an aquatic … Continue reading →... Read more »

Dulvy, N., Sadovy, Y., & Reynolds, J. (2003) Extinction vulnerability in marine populations. Fish and Fisheries, 4(1), 25-64. DOI: 10.1046/j.1467-2979.2003.00105.x  

Vetemaa, M., Eschbaum, R., Albert, A., Saks, L., Verliin, A., Jurgens, K., Kesler, M., Hubel, K., Hannesson, R., & Saat, T. (2010) Changes in fish stocks in an Estonian estuary: overfishing by cormorants?. ICES Journal of Marine Science. DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fsq113  

  • August 19, 2010
  • 01:33 PM

Marine Snow: dead organisms and poop as manna in the ocean

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

“When I think of the floor of the deep sea…I see always the steady, unremitting, downward drift of materials from above, flake upon flake, layer upon layer…the most stupendous “snowfall” the earth has ever seen.” -Rachel Carson, The Sea Around … Continue reading →... Read more »

Bochdansky, A., van Aken, H., & Herndl, G. (2010) Role of macroscopic particles in deep-sea oxygen consumption. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(18), 8287-8291. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0913744107  

Boyce, D., Lewis, M., & Worm, B. (2010) Global phytoplankton decline over the past century. Nature, 466(7306), 591-596. DOI: 10.1038/nature09268  

Goldthwait, S., Carlson, C., Henderson, G., & Alldredge, A. (2005) Effects of physical fragmentation on remineralization of marine snow. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 59-65. DOI: 10.3354/meps305059  

WOTTON, R., & MALMQVIST, B. (2001) Feces in Aquatic Ecosystems. BioScience, 51(7), 537. DOI: 10.1641/0006-3568(2001)051[0537:FIAE]2.0.CO;2  

  • August 5, 2010
  • 12:21 PM

Inevitability and oil, Pt. 2: the “end of oil” and human empathy

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Never thought I’d actually get around to a Pt. 2, eh?  Well, I’ve shown you!  Here’s the first part: Inevitability and Oil, Pt. 1: the inherent risk for accidents in complex technology For decades now economists and scientists have predicted the “end of oil:” the day when we use up our oil reserves, potentially resulting [...]... Read more »

  • July 28, 2010
  • 10:12 AM

Forest canopy height: why do we care?

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

If you’ve been on the internet at all in the past week, you’ve probably seen these lovely images from NASA, visualizing the height of tree canopies around the world.  They’ve been on science sites along with art ones.  In a sense, that alone is useful: using beautiful visuals to make people think about the world [...]... Read more »

  • July 19, 2010
  • 10:19 AM

DMS(P): the amazing story of a pervasive indicator molecule in the marine food web

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Dimethylsulfide.  Does that word mean anything to you?  “Why yes,” you organic chemistry nerds may say, “It clearly is a molecule of sulfur with two methyl groups attached.”  That’s as far as I could have gotten – until this past week, when I inundated myself with information on dimethylsulfide (DMS) due to a paper published [...]... Read more »

G. V. Wolfe, M. Steinke, & G. O. Kirst. (1997) Grazing-activated chemical defence in a unicellular marine alga. Nature, 894-897. info:/

  • June 25, 2010
  • 12:28 PM

How did they get there? The colonization of a hydrothermal vent after volcanic eruption

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

To some people, a volcanic eruption means “Ahh!  Run!  Hot Lava!”  But to others, it means “SCIENCE!”  To those studying hydrothermal vent communities, that is (and a wide berth of geologists). Hydrothermal vents are cracks in the seafloor formed when tectonic plates spread apart, which spew out hot, mineral-rich water from the interior of the [...]... Read more »

Mullineaux, L., Adams, D., Mills, S., & Beaulieu, S. (2010) Larvae from afar colonize deep-sea hydrothermal vents after a catastrophic eruption. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(17), 7829-7834. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0913187107  

  • June 22, 2010
  • 05:05 PM

Inevitability and Oil, Pt. 1: the inherent risk for accidents in complex technology

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

When I read updates on blogs or the news about the BP oil spill, my expression is generally very serious: furrowed brow, pursed lips which I’m probably chewing in alternation with gnawing a nail.  But last week I laughed out loud, a true LOL, a brash guffaw.  (“What?!” my labmates inquired.) I had read this [...]... Read more »

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