Ronald O'Dor

AA (El Camino College, CA)
AB (Berkeley)
  • Teaching & Research
  • Students' Research Topics
  • Graduates' occupations
  • Publications
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  • Teaching & Research
    Telemetric bioenergetics of cephalopods

    orking with VEMCO Ltd., Shad Bay, N.S., O'Dor's research team developed radio-acoustic positioning telemetry (RAPT) to continuously record animal movements under the sea. They monitor the behaviour and physiology of cephalopods around the world. Octopus and squid as small as 50g can carry vitamin pill-sized electronic tags that ping ultrasonically. Larger cuttlefish and nautilus carry tags the size of AA batteries to telemeter back data about their environment and/or physiology and monitor their bioenergetics. RAPT buoys record ping times and radio them several kilometers to a computer continuously triangulating positions and storing data. O'Dor's team helps other scientists use RAPT to study a wide range of invertebrates, fish and even Navy divers. RAPT is a valuable conservation tool, revealing how animals use marine reserves which helps to design them. By tracking divers carrying video cameras, RAPT helps reconstruct pictorial maps of the habitats animals use. Comparing these maps from year to year also illustrates how environmental changes affect habitats.

    Ron is Senior Scientist, Census of Marine Life
    O'Dor's team is documenting cephalopods occupying every part of the ocean. Although there are fewer than a thousand species of cephalopods in the world, the adults range from rice grain size to half-ton giants. They grow fast and become a major food source for top predators like whales. Because they are so interesting but not too diverse, the team was asked to develop CephBase, an interactive website and database, as a prototype for the Ocean Biogeographic Information System. CephBase and OBIS will help keep track of the global Census of Marine Life planned over the next decade. The Census will use new ocean exploration techniques including tracking and telemetry. The successful technologies and the cephalopod prototype led to O'Dor becoming Senior Scientist and coordinating the research for this billion dollar quantitative look at ocean biodiversity.

    The energy costs of activity in marine animals are poorly known and difficult to measure. We study activity costs in animals ranging from large pelagic cephalopods to microscopic planktonic bivalve larvae. Nautilus, squid, cuttlefish, octopus and even adult scallops turn energy into jet pressure which can be monitored and telemetered from free-swimming animals in the 15m diameter Aquatron pool and in nature. Special video microscopy techniques allow us to monitor activity of larvae in simulated natural water columns in the 10m deep tower tank.

    Examples of Students' Research Topics
    Honors BSc Students
    • Gilbert, Marianne (1999). Chemoreception in the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis.
    • Curtis, Cameron (1998). Movement patterns of female American lobsters, Homarus americanus, at Jeddore Harbour, N.S., monitored with radio acoustic telemetry.
    Graduate Students
    • MSc Aitken, Jill (2001). Bioenergetics of the giant Australian cuttlefish Sepia apama.
    • MSc Rigby, Robin (2000). Quantifying squid behavioral energetics with RAPT.
    • PhD Wood, James (2000). The natural history of Bathypolypus arcticus Prosch, a deep-sea octopus
    • PhD Jackson, Dan (1999). Gravity and the physiology of locomotion and feeding in marine bivalve larvae: results from space shuttle experiments.
    Some Graduates' Occupations
    • Coelho, Lucilia (1986) PhD - Professor, Univ. Algarve, Portugal.
    • McKenna, Steve (1987) BScHon., Chief technician, bivalve hatchery, N.S.
    • Kean-Howie, Joan (1994) PhD, Regional Director General, Aquaculture, Ottawa.
    • Perez, Angel (1995) PhD, Associate Professor, Univ. do Vale Do Itajai, Brasil.
    • Curtis, Cameron (1998) BScHon. Tracking technician, New Zealand.
    • Gilbert, Marianne (1999) BScHon. PhD student, McGill Univ.
    • Wood, James (2000) PhD, CephBase website supervisor, Distance Education Coordinator, Bermuda Biological Station for Research.
    • Rigby, R. (2000) MSc, PhD student, Univ. Hokkaido, Japan
    • Aitken, J. (2001) MSc, PhD student, Cambridge Univ., England.
    Selected Publications

    Decker, C.J. and O'Dor, R.K. (2002) The Census of Marine Life: Special Issue. Oceanologia Acta 25 (5): 179-284.

    Rodhouse, P., Dawe, E.G. and O'Dor, R.K. (1998) Squid Recruitment Dynamics. Fish. Tech. Pap 376, FAO:Rome, 273 pp.

    Pörtner, H.O., O'Dor, R.K. and Macmillan, D.L. (1994) Physiology of Cephalopod Molluscs. Lifestyle and Performance Adaptations. Gordon and Breach, Basel. 214pp.

    O'Dor, R.K. (2002) Telemetered cephalopod energetics: swimming, soaring and blimping. Integ. Comp. Biol. 42:1065-1070.

    O'Dor, R.K., Adamo, S., Aitken, J.P., Andrade, Y., Finn, J., Hanlon, R.T. and Jackson, G.D. (2002) Currents as environmentsl constraints on the behavior, energetics and distribution of squid and cuttlefish. Bull. Mar. Sci. 71:601-617.

    O'Dor, R.K., Aitken, J.P., Babcock, R.C., Bolden, S.K., Seino, S., Zeller, D.C. and Jackson, G.D. (2001) Using radio-acoustic positioning and telemetry (RAPT) to define and assess marine protected areas (MPAs). In: J. Sibert and J. Nielsen (eds), Electronic Tagging and Tracking In Marine Fisheries, Reviews: Methods and Technologies in Fish Biology and Fisheries, Vol. 1. Kluwer Academic Press, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 147-166.

    Jackson, G.D. and O'Dor, R.K. (2001) Time, space and the ecophysiology of squid growth, life in the fast lane. Vie Milieu 51: 205-215.

    Voegeli, F.A., Webber, D.M., Smale, M.J., Andrade, Y. and O'Dor, R.K. (2001) Ultrasonic telemetry, tracking and automated monitoring technology for sharks. Environ. Biol. Fish. 60:267-281.

    Webber, D.M., Aitken, J. and O'Dor, R.K. (2000) Costs of vertical locomotion and vertic dynamics of cephalopods and fish. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 73: 651-662.

    Wood, J.B. and O'Dor, R.K. (2000) Do larger cephalopods live longer? Effects of temperature and phylogeny on interspecific comparisons of age and size at maturity. Mar. Biol. 136:91-99.

    Manuel, J.L., Pearce, C.M., Manning, D.A. and O'Dor, R.K. (2000) The response of sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) veligers to a weak thermocline in 9m deep mesocosms. Mar. Biol. 137:169-175.

    Seino, S., Tsuchiya, Y., O'Dor, R.K., Uda, T., Nishihara, M., Kugimiya, K., Watnabe, N. (1999) Behavioral monitoring of horseshoe crabs by radio-acoustic biotelemetry. Proc. Coastal Engineering, Jap. Soc. Civil Eng. 46:1296-1300 (In Japanese).