Why Study Biology by the Sea?

Why Study Biology by the Sea?

Karl S. Matlin, Jane Maienschein, and Rachel A. Ankeny

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226672762

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book explores why researchers since the mid-nineteenth century have spent time at the seaside, as well as what questions motivated their work and what opportunities appeared as a result of working by the sea. Two key themes consider: first, how movements from the beach to laboratory bench became possible only with the development of institutions to house equipment, people, organisms, and research projects; and second, how these institutions enabled a variety of different kinds of research questions and practices. The chapters explore processes associated with institutionalization, with focus on the Marine Biological Laboratory due to its unique, long-standing combination of commitment to research and education and their intersection. Marine institutions have embraced a wide range of scientific practices with diverse tools, locations, organisms, and materials. Bringing researchers and students to work closely together for short concentrated periods of time by the sea has also led to controversies. Chapters examine historic and contemporary research involving both marine organisms and comparative studies with non-marine organisms, as well as use of microscopy and other technologies and techniques, locations for research including intertidal zones or ecosystems as well as coral reefs and other offshore locales, materials utilized such as living processes and preserved specimens, and the different levels explored ranging from molecules and genes to complex systems. This historical analysis reveals the tremendous capacity of marine institutions for facilitating different kinds of research, bringing together diverse groups of researchers at different career stages, and allowing sharing of ideas and ways of working.

Table of Contents

Front Matter


Karl S. Matlin, Jane Maienschein, and Rachel A. Ankeny

Part One Marine Places

Part Two Marine Practice