Please join us for our last event of 2016, Notes from the Field Presentations, on Sunday, December 4 at 2 PM at the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History. This event will feature 20-minute presentations by three biologists from the American Museum of Natural History discussing the discoveries and challenges of their latest expeditions searching for fossils, leeches and deep-sea creatures across the world including Antarctica, deep-sea canyons in the Atlantic Ocean and various countries.
This event is FREE! However, we have limited space available so if you would like to participate in this event, you MUST make a reservation by emailing [masked]. Only registered participants will be allowed to participate.
Once your reservation is confirmed, please meet at the security desk on the first floor of the American Museum of Natural History (down the ramp next to the train station entrance and underneath the stairs on Central Park West) at 1:40 PM sharp! Check-in with the security guard at the front desk upon arrival. If you have trouble finding us, please call (917)[masked].
Information about the presentations and presenters are as follows:
Traveling the globe for bloodsuckers
There are over 700 leech species. They are found globally and in a myriad of habitats: freshwater, marine water, forest floors, small trees, and in caves. While most people think of leeches as feeding on blood, many species actually eat other invertebrates (e.g., snails, earthworms, and insect larvae). Of course, many leech species do feed on blood, and sometimes find unusual ways to get a drink. Over the last four years I have traveled to Asia, Europe, South America, Central America, and across North America to collect as much leech diversity as I can get my hands on. This has resulted in many satisfying hours trudging through forests or wading into cool water. It has also made it possible to gain many insights into the overall biology of leeches, and the animals they feed on.
Michael Tessler is a fourth year Ph.D. Candidate at the American Museum of Natural History’s Richard Gilder Graduate School. He is generally interested in biodiversity and has conducted studies on leeches, mosses, and bacteria. The focus of these studies has included taxonomy, systematics, ecology, and conservation. He has helped pioneer new methods for comparisons of sites for conservation purposes and CT scanning of soft-bodied invertebrates to describe new species of leeches.
Paleontology in Antarctica
Many people think of the Antarctic as completely covered in ice and snow, but parts of the peninsula are actually dry and ice-free for much of the austral summer. The James Ross Island Group, where I was working, is made from rocks that were once on the seafloor, forming from sediment washed down from Antarctica and South America, during the Cretaceous (towards the end of the age of dinosaurs). My motivation for fossil hunting in these rocks was to try and find what many paleontologists consider nearly impossible: the fossilized remains of a Mesozoic mammal. These little guys, who we often imagine as running around under the feet of the dinosaurs, hold key information for understanding the ancestry and evolution of all living mammals today.
Abagael West is a paleontologist who specializes in the study of fossil mammals. She received her B.A. in Zoology from the University of Cambridge in 2010, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, in the collaborative program with the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History. After defending her Ph.D. in late December, she is moving to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History as a Rea Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research is on several aspects of the evolution and relationships of the Notoungulata, an extinct order of hoofed mammals from South America. She is particularly interested in using ancient DNA and protein sequences to test and augment traditional paleontological hypotheses and datasets.
Exploring Deep-Sea Coral Communities
Dr. Mercer R. Brugler
Dr. Mercer R. Brugler, a deep-sea evolutionary biologist, just returned from exploring deep-sea canyons and methane seeps along the Northwest Atlantic Continental Margin using the famous research submersible Alvin and the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry. The deep sea, which is characterized by complete darkness, crushing pressures, and near-freezing temperatures, is the largest environment on Earth. Join Dr. Brugler as he showcases the unusual and beautiful life-forms that thrive on the ocean floor, as well as the technology that is deployed to explore one of the world's most mysterious environments. With the advent of telepresence, the general public can now participate in real-time on a number of deep-sea expeditions, including via the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer and Ocean Exploration Trust's E/V Nautilus. "Out of sight, out of mind" can no longer apply.
Mercer R. Brugler, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) and a Research Associate at the AMNH and Smithsonian NMNH. Dr. Brugler is a deep-sea evolutionary biologist that specializes in the phylogenetic systematics and molecular evolution of black corals and sea anemones (phylum Cnidaria). He has participated in ten research cruises and two submersible dives in Alvin, and recently sent three minority CityTech students to the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary (Gulf of Mexico) to collect black corals using the remotely operated vehicle Mohawk. Dr. Brugler received his B.S. from the University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL), M.S. from the College of Charleston's Grice Marine Lab (Charleston, SC), and Ph.D. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Lafayette, LA).
NB: Our photographer will be taking photos of this event for our website. If you attend this event and do not wish to have your photo posted to our website, PLEASElet us know in your reservation and we will accommodate.