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Santa Cruz, CA

Vikram Baliga, PhD Candidate at UC Santa Cruz, member of the Mehta Lab. Areas of study: ecology, ontogeny, morphometrics, and comparative methods.


Fun with Dissections!

Vikram Baliga

I just wanted to share one quick little update. I've been working more with my labrid (wrasse) specimens over the past few weeks, and have started to dissect out a few muscles. I'm chiefly interested in removing the adductor mandibulae and sternohyoideus muscles. The adductor mandibulae is a collection of muscles that function to close the jaws -- quite important for species that rely on biting. The sternohyoideus muscle acts to retract and depress the hyoid bar (a.k.a. the "bony tongue") and is quite integral to the process of suction feeding (side note: humans have a homologous sternohyoid muscle) I'm interested in understanding how large (by mass) each of these muscles is not only in different species of wrasses, but also how muscle sizes scale across ontogeny within each species. I'd like to gather data to test the hypothesis that labrids that show strong dietary shifts over ontogeny also show larger scaling differences over ontogeny in muscles related to feeding.

Thankfully, the Mehta Lab has an amazing light microscope: the Leica M80. This microscope is connected to one of the lab computers, which makes it possible to take photos during dissections. Plus, I can make use of this setup for teaching dissection techniques, since the camera that is incorporated into the microscope allows me access to a live view on the computer screen of whatever can be seen through the ocular lens of the scope.

Anyone sitting next to me can get a live view of whatever I see through the scope. Pretty neat!