Jeffrey Goddard, research biologist at UC Santa Barbara's Marine Science Institute, received a 2005 UC MEXUS small grant to undertake research on larval development in sea slugs from the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, in collaboration with Alicia Hermosillo from the Centro Universitario de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Universidad de Guadalajara. Their research on these diverse, colorful mollusks indicates that the vast majority of the hundreds of species known from the region have small eggs and a planktonic feeding larval stage. This finding stands in contrast to the high prevalence of large eggs and non-feeding types of development known from the relatively food-poor waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Goddard and Hermosillo plan to examine additional species from Mexico and then hope to expand their research globally to test specific predictions about the prevalence of the major types of development by ocean region and larval feeding environment. Dr. Goddard can be contacted at Goddard@lifesci.ucsb.edu.
Home page photo: An aeolid nudibranch sea slug, a recently discovered species, and its newly laid egg string. Photo taken by Jeffrey Goddard.