Science on tap: Darling worms: a rich legacy of polychaete research

The University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center (DMC) is host of the Science on Tap Seminar series at the Newcastle Publick House from 6–7 p.m. Wednesdays.

On July 29, the series wraps up with a seminar by Pete Jumars, “Darling worms: A rich legacy of polychaete research.

Marine worms are critical food web components. They feed on dead organic material on the seafloor and in turn are food for lobsters, crabs, and bottom fishes. These polychaete worms have been studied at the DMC since its beginning 50 years ago.

Research at the DMC has unlocked secrets of polychaete migration, feeding habits, unexpected roles in transferring marine pollution into food webs, and surprisingly fast and efficient means of burrowing through mud. Current and future projects will focus on their roles as pests of oysters and their altered ecosystem functions when nipped (partially eaten) by fishes.

Jumars is one of the world’s leading experts on polychaete worms, having published comprehensive reviews of this taxonomic group in 1979 and 2015. He studied deep-sea species diversity at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. Jumars’ current research interests are broad and interdisciplinary — focusing on the ways that physics, chemistry, and geology limit what marine organisms do and how they do it. Jumars is a professor in the UMaine School of Marine Sciences and based at the Darling Marine Center.

This summer the DMC is also offering Wednesday Walking Tours of our waterfront facility through Aug. 19. Tours begin at 10:30 a.m. and last about 90 minutes.

On Aug. 8 the DMC will host an Open House from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public.

Additional information on all these events, as well as Darling Marine Center history, can be found on the DMC’s website.