Several weeks ago the biol 326 class did an experiment on black turban snails, where we tested the effects of ocean acidification on their response to predation cues. This was a super exciting experiment because ocean acidification is a very real problem right now, and looking at ocean acidification on sensory reception is something that many real scientists are doing right now (not to say that we aren’t real scientists, but I mean more professional real scientists). Unfortunately our experiment didn’t yield any results which I found incredibly frustrating. So, when it came time for us to pick a topic for our independent projects I wanted to revisit this idea and see if I could get any results using different factors.
So, I did my project on the effects of ocean acidification on black turban snail’s algae choice. I let them choose between three different seaweeds, and tested them three different times, giving them more and more time to acclimate to the low pH water. The first day that I did it, I saw the results that I wanted and I was so happy. The snails that were kept in normal sweater chose a specific algae that they kept trying to eat, and the snails in low pH didn’t make a choice. But then, on the other two days everything went wrong and I didn’t end up getting any results from it.
So now, Ive done two separate experiments that both have showed that there isn’t an effect of ocean acidification on chemoreception of black turban snails, which is weird because basically all other studies on this have found effects in other animals. So, from here theres two options. Option one is assume that both of my experiments were wrong, and keep trying until I find the results that I want. Or, option two is trust the data and conclude theres no effect. This is one of those difficult choices because scientists refusing to accept their data because its not what they wanted is pretty bad, but at the same time scientists are wrong all time, so how much faith are you really expected to have in bad results. Now, if I was a researcher or grad student and ran into this problem, I honestly don’t know what I would do. Thankfully for me though, the class is done and so I don’t have to worry about it. Anyways, science is messy and unfortunately not as easy and clear cut as you might think, but at the end of the day you still have to love it!
If you want more info on ocean acidification, here’s an awesome video!