Drs. Phil Yund and Scott Morello gained the national spotlight in early May 2016 when results from work they conducted during the summer of 2014 at DEI on the behavior of blue mussel larvae was published in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. U.S. News and World Reports picked up the story that originated with Associated Press writer, Patrick Whittle, and that was published in their online edition on May 10, 2016 an article titled “Scientists believe mussels rely on smell when choosing where to set up their homes.” Here is a link to the U.S. News and World Reports article.
The two scientists examined how blue mussel larvae (the early, microscopic swimming stage) make choices related to where they settle and end up on the bottom. In the lab, they offered various odors from a variety of marine organisms to mussel larvae, and watched the direction (towards the odor = positive cues; away from the odor = negative cues) larvae swam. Results showed that there are both strong positive and negative cues that help mussel larvae decide when and where to settle to the bottom. The work will help marine ecologists better understand the complex nature of mussel behaviors, and how settlement choices early in life result in where mussel beds form and how they become established. The link to the scientific paper in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology can be found here.