[Annelida] PhD opportunity

Adrian Glover a.glover at nhm.ac.uk
Thu Nov 3 13:10:21 EST 2005

PhD Opportunity

Whale bone taphonomy: burrows, borings and Osedax

NERC - CASE award with The Natural History Museum, London

Dr. Crispin Little, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Dr. Adrian Glover, Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum,  

Background. When whales die, they sink to the seafloor, creating an  
enormous point-source of organic enrichment and food for benthic  
scavenging organisms. Research using both natural ‘whale-falls’ and  
implanted remains of dead specimens has highlighted the diversity of  
fauna that colonizes these remains, which includes both whale-fall  
specialists and organisms that are also associated with  
chemosynthetic environments such as hydrothermal vents and seeps  
(Smith & Baco 2003; Rouse et al. 2004; Glover et al. 2005).

The project. This PhD will focus on the recently discovered whale- 
fall endemic genus Osedax, a soft-bodied polychaete worm that has  
been described from modern whale-fall communities (Rouse et al. 2004;  
Glover et al. 2005). This bizarre animal has no gut as an adult but  
grows a system of root-like tubes into freshly exposed whale bone by  
an unknown process to 'mine' lipids, which are broken down by the  
intracellular symbionts inside the worm. Evidence from molecular  
genetics suggests that Osedax arose at least 40 million years ago, in  
the late Eocene (Rouse et al. 2004). The principal aim of the project  
is to determine the nature of the Osedax burrow, and to use this  
information to investigate the presence of Osedax in known fossilized  
whale-falls (Amano & Little 2005). Additional aims are to investigate  
the method of burrowing using live specimens held in aquaria, and to  
determine the organism responsible for microborings in modern and  
ancient whale bones. The project will involve oceanographic and  
palaeontological fieldwork in Sweden, UK, USA and Japan.

The candidate. The project is open to candidates with a good first  
degree in marine biology, oceanography, zoology or palaeontology with  
a strong biological background. The location is flexible, but it is  
anticipated that project time will be split 50/50 between institutions.
Further details and how to apply. Please visit the University of  
Leeds website for details on how to apply for this PhD. http:// 

Amano K, Little CTS (2005) Miocene whale-fall community from  
Hokkaido, northern Japan. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology  
Palaeoecology 215:345-356.
Glover AG, Källström B, Smith CR, Dahlgren TG (2005) World-wide whale  
worms? A new species of Osedax from the shallow north Atlantic.  
Proceedings of The Royal Society B
Rouse GW, Goffredi SK, Vrijenhoek RC (2004) Osedax: Bone-eating  
marine worms with dwarf males. Science 305:668-671
Smith CR, Baco AR (2003) Ecology of whale falls at the deep-sea  
floor. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review 41:311-354
Dr Adrian Glover
Zoology Department
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Rd., London SW7 5BD, U.K

+44 (0)20 7942 5056 (office)
+44 (0)77 666 484 40 (mobile)

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