Dr. Emma Perry
As a marine biologist, I focus on the invertebrates at the base of the food web. Many of these organisms play important roles in nutrient recycling yet we know very little about them. I particularly focus on coral ecology and tardigrades both in the field and in the lab. Undergraduates are my research associates on many of these projects.
Meiofaunal Tardigrades in Prince Edward Island, Canada
Previous studies have documented tardigrades in a few locations around the coast of America but none off Canada. I designed this study to systematically survey tardigrades through the intertidal zone down to the subtidal. Along with tardigrades, other meiofauna taxa e.g. nematodes, foraminifera, copepods etc. and substrate analyses were also carried out. I am hoping to determine what taxa inhabit marine sediments along with species of marine tardigrade and what types of beach sediment they prefer. I am then hoping to expand this study around the coast of the United States to ultimately generate a comprehensive biogeography of meiofaunal tardigrades.
Students and I are working in out coral wetlab to grow and propagate corals. We are looking at Acropora, Montopora and Ricordea. We are experimenting with different levels of lighting, water chemistry and plug substrates to try and find the best methods of growing these organisms.
Terrestrial Tardigrades of Maine
I am studying the terrestrial tardigrades of Maine as they are common in the woods and countryside around the state. Only two studies have documented tardigrades in Maine and one of them was the first to find a tardigrade in America. Students in Invertebrate Zoology master microscopy and image analysis as they contribute to this study.
Tardigrades in Acadia National Park
Students are working on a number of other tardigrade related projects from mapping the distribution of tardigrades in Acadia National Park, to studying our local population of Diphascon pingue, to examining tardigrade population shifts caused by logging around Waldo County, Maine.
Discovering New Species of Tardigrades
In the course of our tardigrade adventures we have found a couple of new species of tardigrades. Students working with me are learning the steps involved in establishing a new species and even the thought that goes into naming them. One example of this is Echiniscoides wyethi which we named after the Wyeth family.