CFL in Africa – Cooking Snails: Just Add Isotopes

This summer, a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Limnology and Wright State University in Ohio, are on the shores of Africa’s Lake Tanganyika, the oldest and deepest of the African rift lakes.
Understanding how “Lake T” works is imperative in order to protect its remarkable biodiversity ( there are more than 700 endemic animal species) and the essential services (fisheries, clean water, transportation) it provides to the citizens of the four countries lining its shores. Our own Ellen Hamann, lab manager for Professor Pete McIntyre, is currently with Pete and the rest of the crew in Africa. Here’s another note from the field…
August 1, 2012

With Ben on vacation this week, the Big Project for Team Madison has been an ongoing experiment with snails, the goal of which is study maternal investment in Lavegeria nassa communities and measure the production rate of babies using an isotopic labeling method.
Snails are painted bright shades of nail polish so they’re easier to locate after they’ve been put back into the wild.
Well these snails actively nourish their babies, in that they brood their young inside the shell until they are a safe size to be released (just over 1mm…which is still pretty tiny if you ask me) and then give birth to live young! It’s like a mini conveyor belt of snail production, and we basically want to see whether maternal investment in producing young reflects the quality of the mother’s diet.
Cool stuff, really.
Read more at Ellen’s blog