Improvements (Guest Post)

Over the next few weeks students from the University of Washington FISH310 course (Biology of Shellfishes) will be providing insight into some of their indpendent research projects and thoughts on Olympia oysters in Puget Sound.

Today we have a post by Karl Seitz as a follow up on yesterdays account of his experiment. Here he provides some great feedback.

The study could be improved in many ways to provide better and more applicable results. First, sample sizes could be increased to provide a better representation of the natural populations. Our sample size was only ten oysters from each population and of those only five were used in the qPCR work and only the smallest were able to be used in the oxygen consumption work. Second, a better more accurate system could be devised to monitor metabolic rate using a more representative sample of the population. The tubes we used could only accommodate the smallest sized oysters so our results only represent this portion of the population. Also the dissolved oxygen meters all read different levels and continuously dropped even in the control tube which decreases our accuracy. We could also only monitor one population at a time with the meters so the Oyster Bay readings were always taken about twenty minutes after the Dabob readings began. We could also extend the period of monitoring to gain more perspective on how the oysters deal with stress through full recovery. Finally, there was some discrepancy as to which samples were which when normalizing with actin expression so that some samples may not have been normalized correctly. This could easily be corrected with better laboratory note taking.

As a class component I believe that having a group quarter long project is a great idea and that this particular project was perfect for that task. However, I do feel that this particular project would have been more appropriate in a physiology or population ecology class rather than in a general shellfish biology course. Since we were not necessarily learning about the specifics of what we were studying such as, the action of HSPs, the use and function of qPCR, and general stress responses in organisms, the project was often confusing and seemed non-applicable to what we were learning in class. I think projects more directly concerned with basic shellfish biology and taxonomy would be better suited for this particular class.