23 June 2008

Materials and methods

The 74th Annual Meeting of the American Malacological Society will be next week at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

The program and abstracts are available here. I will be presenting the results of the work I have been doing with the land snail Oxyloma retusa.

I want to get my PowerPoint presentation ready by Tuesday evening. After Tuesday, I am not going to look at the slides or think about what I am going to talk about until I am up there on the stage. I have done it this way for my last 3-4 presentations and it has worked surprisingly well. I think the presentation ends up being more spontaneous.

Anyway, I thought I'd throw in a couple of slides to show my method of monitoring the matings of snails on a glass plate—talk about "cutting edge" science.

A pair of Oxyloma retusa mating on a glass plate held by an ordinary lab clamp.

The advantage of having the snails on a rotatable glass plate is that they can be examined from different angles. Once the snail on the bottom attaches its foot to the glass, the pair becomes quite secure; the plate can even be turned upside down. I do place a cup underneath just in case they fall, though.

I keep the snails in separate containers for a day or two and then bring them together on a glass plate. If one snail gets interested in another one, it starts going thru the pre-mating ritual, which simply consists of climbing and circling the shell of the other snail. If the bottom snail is responsive, they start mating; otherwise they separate. A picture showing how I timed mating snails was in this post. I have also included that picture in my presentation.

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