Teaching in the DMZ!

Sunday, May 6 entry number two – On the way back in at Norton Gulch, the Florida Tech Oceanography class paused midway to examine colonies of the aggregating anemone Anthopleura elegantissima. They have green bodies with pink-tipped tentacles and they grow in dense aggregations with individuals touching all of their neighbors on each side.  Sometimes you will see a distinct stripe of bare rock between the aggregations.  This is the DMZ (demilitarized zone!) between neighboring colonies which are battling it out for supremacy on the rock. Each colony is a collection of clones (actually, geneticists have shown the story to be more complex than this) that grows possibly from a single settled anemone larva. This intense competition for space in the rocky intertidal, a classic ecological concept, is something not as easily exhibited back home in a Florida-based oceanography class. In Florida the rocks are far less common and competition for space does not seem as intense as it clearly is here. I talked to the students about this and other topics as we sat in the intertidal zone and enjoyed the beautiful Oregon weather. What a great venue for a Florida Tech Oceanography class! By the way, the sunny weather, usually scarce in Oregon, reportedly showed up the day we arrived from Florida…


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