Dr. Peter Petraitis to Present Research on Dogwhelks at August 18th Acadia Science Seminar

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Date: August 12, 2009
Contact: Ian Marquis, 207-288-3340
Contact: Jerilyn Bowers, 207-288-9880, Ext. 105
Contact: David Manski, 207-288-8720

Salsbury Cove, ME – On Tuesday, August 18, 2009, Dr. Peter Petraitis, Professor of Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, will present his research on dogwhelks at Maren Auditorium at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory at 7:30 p.m. Dr. Petraitis’ talk titled, “Dramatic shifts in shell size of dogwhelks (Nucella lapillus) in Maine over the last century” is part of the Acadia Science Seminar Series, co-sponsored by Acadia National Park, the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and Friends of Acadia. The talk is free and open to the public.

A summer resident of Swans Island, Dr. Petraitis has been studying the rocky intertidal zone of Maine since 1981. His most recent work, done in collaboration with Jon Fisher, Erika Rhile, and Harrison Liu, has shown a 20% increase in the size of dogwhelks over the last century. Dr. Petraitis and his colleagues studied dogwhelk shells collected by Harold Sellers Colton from 1915-1922 at more than sixty locations around Mount Desert Island and catalogued in the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. They compared them to modern populations at nineteen of Colton’s collection sites. The study team determined that modern dogwhelks found in sheltered locations around Mt. Desert Island had on average 27% longer shells than their predecessors. Dogwhelks found at exposed collection locations also showed an 8% average increase in shell length, and semi-exposed locations contained dogwhelks with shell length on average 23% longer.

Dr. Petraitis will discuss several possible causes for this dramatic increase in shell size at his lecture on Tuesday, August 18th. “We welcome Dr. Petraitis to the Acadia Science Seminar,” said David Manski, Chief of Resource Management at Acadia National Park. “We are fortunate that naturalists in the early 20th century studied Acadia’s resources and left excellent historic scientific information like the Proctor invertebrate collection and Mr. Colton’s collection of dogwhelks. It is invaluable to be able to monitor how park resources are changing over time, to see if there are attributable causes, and to take management action if warranted.”

The Acadia Science Seminar is free and begins at 7:30 p.m. at the MDI Biological Laboratory’s Maren Auditorium. For more information, contact David Manski at 288-8720 or via e-mail.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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