Posted: Friday, March 30, 2018 - 11:23am

Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 4:00pm

Location: AW-204

Title: Huxley Speaker Series 5/31/18: Dennis Willows: PNW Sea Slug

Geomagnetic Orientation Behavior in the PNW Sea Slug Tritonia: Research on a Not Yet Understood Sensory Mode with Implications for Survival in a Changing Climate

Tritonia orienting to bite polyps from a sea pen

Nudibranch mollusks not surprisingly orient to optimize finding and capturing sea pens, their prey.  How do these sea slugs do it in a complex sensory environment where odor cues are carried on water currents driven by tides, seasons,  local geography and changing climate factors?   Evidence from field work using SCUBA as well as electrophysiological recording from individual brain cells suggest they detect the earth’s feeble magnetic field and use it to determine the shoreward direction.  This information also provides critical cues to the location of their prey. 

Dennis Willows, UW Professor Emeritus of Biology, is a neurobiologist interested the way nervous systems are wired to drive coherent behavior. He was Director of the UW Friday Harbor Laboratories and Director of the Neurobiology Program of the US National Science Foundation.  


The Huxley Speaker Series is hosted by Huxley College of the Environment, at Western Washington University.

The Series is free and open to the public. Presentations are held each Thursday in the Academic Center West (AW-204) on the WWU campus in Bellingham, WA.

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