Last year, I attended the defense talk of Jasmine Crumsey, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University. Her PhD dissertation focused on the impacts of exotic earthworms on soil carbon dynamics. Her work is notable because of what she found (exotic earthworms alter carbon storage, but the exact effect differs among species depending on their burrowing pattern), but also because of how she found it: she worked with radiologists from the University of Michigan medical school to reconstruct and quantify earthworm burrow systems. How cool is that?*
This made me think of my post on unusual suppliers of research equipment (the winner being the use of vibrators by pollination biologists), but it’s on a whole different scale in terms of cost and technology!
Do you know of other examples of people using very fancy, very expensive equipment for an “off-label” use in ecological research? Have you done this for your own research?
*Jasmine was not the first person to use this approach – see her Ecology paper for references to others who did this before her. This was just the first time I’d heard of this.
**You can also learn more about Jasmine’s research and see video of her electroshocking to get worms out of their burrows by watching this video, starting around 9:20.