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The decline of Invertebrate Zoology

JAMES A. BLAKE jablake at ix.netcom.com
Wed Mar 31 23:12:37 EST 2004

Annelid enthusiasts, 

Kirk's message is distressing. I cannot imaginea student ofMarine Biology 
not having an introduction toInvertebrate Zoology. 

My own course at Fresno State College was taught by Keith Woodwick. Our field 
trips and laboratory excercises, now so long ago, introduced me to the 
inverterbrate world and eventually to an interest in polychaetes.   I still 
remember digging up talitrid amphipods, pismo clams, and nephtyids on the 
beaches of Morro Bay and over turning rocks at Cayucos and also of finding 
spionids in coralline algae.  These were the best of times, an introduction to 
the products of the Earth's evolution and the natural history along our 

I recall Keith suggesting a special project that included analysis of shell 
borers of Haliotus rufescens.  My first effort at research.  I cracked the 
shells, extracted the polydorids, identified them as best I could , and was 
initiated to a life-time interest, all as part of a 4-credit semester course 
open to undergraduate and graduate students.  Even the umbo of the Pismo Clam 
yielded a new species Polydora (P. elegantissma Blake and Woodwick, 1972).  

Where would I be without this course?  It is distressing to learn that  a 
"Marine Biolgy" program would discontinue the study of the major anmial taxa 
found in the marine environment.  What do they consider Marine Biology, if a 
study of the marine taxa is omitted?  

Can the study of molecules of animals be more important than an understanding 
of the anmials themselves?  What have we come to? 

Jim Blake  

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