Photo of Dipolydora quadrilobata, a spionid polychaete worm

Research in the Lindsay Lab

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Current Projects:
(Click on the blue squares to jump to the project)

Ecology of Injury in Marine Soft sedimentary habitats
Functional Diversity of Subsurface Deposit Feeders

Past Projects & Ongoing Interests:
Chemoreception mechanisms in deposit-feeding polychaetes
Potential Population-level effects of pesticide and herbicide toxicity in Maine Soft-shell Clams (Mya arenaria)
Modeling disturbance: fish pits

Selected Publications (reprints available on request)

Sensory Biology & Ecology:

Lindsay, S.M. 2009. Ecology and biology of chemoreception in polychaetes. Zoosymposia 2: 339-367 [Review Paper] (link to pdf)

Forest, D.L. and S.M. Lindsay. 2008. Observations of serotonin and FMRFamide-like immunoreactivity in palp sensory structures and the anterior nervous system of spionid polychaetes. Journal of Morphology 269:544-551

Tsie, M., P.D. Rawson and S.M. Lindsay. 2008. Immunolocalization of a Gaq protein to the chemosensory organs of Dipolydora quadrilobata (Polychaeta: Spionidae). Cell & Tissue Research 333:469-480.

Lindsay, S.M. and R.G. Vogt. 2004. Behavioral Responses of newly hatched zebrafish (Danio rerio) to Amino Acid Chemostimulants. Chemical Senses 29: 93-100

Lindsay, S.M., T.J. Riordan, Jr., and D. Forest. 2004. Identification and activity-dependent labeling of peripheral sensory structures of a spionid polychaete. Biological Bulletin 206:65-77.

Riordan, Jr., T.J. and S.M. Lindsay. 2002. Feeding Responses to particle-bound cues by a deposit-feeding spionid polychaete, Dipolydora quadrilobata (Jacobi 1883). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 277:79-95

Lindsay, S.M., T.M. Frank, J. Kent, J. Partridge, and M.I. Latz. 1999. Spectral sensitivity of vision andbioluminescence in the midwater shrimp, Sergestes similis. Biol. Bull. 197:348-360

Woodin, S. A., S. M. Lindsay and D. S. Wethey. 1995. Process specific recruitment cues in marine sedimentary systems. Biological Bulletin 189:49-58.

Ecology of Injury & Regeneration:
Lindsay, S.M. 2010. Frequency of injury and the ecology of regeneration in marine benthic invertebrates. Integrative & Comparative Biology 50(4):479-493 [Review Paper] (link to article)

Lindsay, S.M., J.L. Jackson, and D.L. Forest. 2008. Morphology of anterior regeneration in two spionid polychaete species: implications for feeding efficiency. Invertebrate Biology. 127: 65-79.

Lindsay, S.M. , J.L. Jackson, and S.Q. He. 2007. Anterior Regeneration in the spionid polychaetes Dipolydora quadrilobata and Pygospio elegans. Marine Biology 150: 1161-1172 (First published online August 2006)

Lindsay, S. M., D. S. Wethey, and S. A. Woodin. 1996. Modeling browsing predation, infaunal activity, and recruitment in marine soft-sediment habitats. American Naturalist.148(4):684-699

Lindsay, S. M. and S. A. Woodin. 1995. Tissue loss induces switching of feeding mode in spionid polychaetes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 125:159-169

Lindsay, S.M., J. Chasse, R.A. Butler, R.J. Van Beneden. 2010. Impacts of stage-specific acute pesticide exposure on predicted population structure of the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria. Aquatic Toxicology 98(3): 265-274

Click here for Full C.V. (all the gory details)

Ecology of Injury in marine sedimentary habitats: Effect of repeated injury on infaunal condition and sediment bioturbation
NSF OCE-0825667 (S. Lindsay PI)
The majority of the ocean floor is sedimentary, and marine sediments play a key role in the flux of nutrients and organic matter in the ocean. Via their feeding and other activities, infaunal organisms living in marine sediments influence benthic-pelagic coupling by processing and redistributing organic matter supplied from the water column and influencing the supply of nutrients. These activities also influence recruitment and competitive interactions. Thus, factors that impact infaunal activity can secondarily impact sediment biogeochemistry and benthic communities. Non-lethal loss of body tissue is a common event for marine infauna such as polychaetes, and numerous studies have investigated the immediate effects of injury on individuals and predicted indirect effects on ecological interactions in marine soft-sediment habitats.

This study combines field surveys of infaunal injury with laboratory experiments to examine the effect of repeated injury on a variety of polychaete species. Because comprehensive measurements relating sediment activity, regeneration status and nutritional condition of infauna are rare, these experiments will compare the effect of repeated injury on survival, growth, fecundity, nutritional condition and sediment disturbance of surface deposit-feeding and subsurface deposit-feeding polychaetes. Data gathered in the proposed experiments and surveys will be used to create a more realistic model of the interacting effects injury has on infaunal populations, sediment bioturbation, recruitment, and predator populations. Effects of predation intensity on bioturbation and infaunal populations will be explored. The proposed research will provide an important new perspective on the ways infaunal injury impacts benthic community ecology, trophic transfer of energy, and potentially benthic-pelagic fluxes of nutrients and contaminants.


Functional Diversity of Subsurface Deposit Feeders
NSF OCE0851172 (P. Jumars, PI; S. Lindsay, co-PI) Pete Jumars and I are both really interested in bioturbation and deposit-feeding invertebrates. In this collaboration, we are surveying particle-handling mechanics and the effects of subsurface deposit-feeding polychaetes on sediments, with an aim to map morphologies onto function. In particular, I am investigating the size & muscularization of nuchal organs and other chemosensory structures in sub-surface deposit-feeding polychaetes to better understand how sensory structures are deployed while worms burrow, and how the mechanics of burrowing influences the supply of dissolved (or particle-bound) chemical cues to worms.


Linking bioturbation and sensory biology: Chemoreception mechanisms in deposit-feeding polychaetes
NSF OCE0221229 (S. Lindsay, PI; P. Rawson, co-PI)
Marine soft-sediment benthic habitats typically feature large numbers of deposit-feeding invertebrates such as polychaetes, bivalves, gastropods, crustaceans, holothurians, and hemichordates. By feeding on sediments, defecating, tube-building and burrowing, deposit-feeders exert profound effects on the ecology, biology, geology, and chemistry of their habitats. Evidence suggests that their feeding and sediment-disturbing activities are modulated in part by chemoreception. In this project, we investigated the process of chemoreception and how it coordinates deposit feeding in spionid polychaete worms. We described the ultrastructure and innervation of putative sensory structures on spionid feeding palps using electron and confocal microscopy. After describing the effect of particle-bound chemical cues on feeding behavior of the spionid Dipolydora quadrilobata, we showed that these same cues activated sensory cells on the feeding palps in activity-dependent cell-labeling studies. Molecular biological results suggest that the chemoreception signal transduction pathway in D. quadrilobata involves G-protein coupled receptors, and we found g-protein alpha subunit immunoreactivity localized in nuchal organs and sensory cilia on the feeding palps. Three graduate students, three undergraduate students and three high school interns were mentored on this project.


Potential Population-level effects of pesticide and herbicide toxicity in Maine Soft-shell Clams (Mya arenaria)
Maine Sea Grant (R. VanBeneden PI, S. Lindsay co-PI)
Pollution by agricultural pesticide and herbicide can be detrimental to sediment-dwelling marine invertebrates such as copepods and polychaete worms. Although many ecotoxicological experiments focus on individual responses to contaminants, pollutants can affect all levels of biological organization, from cells to ecosystems. Like many infaunal species, soft-shell clams are broadcast spawners; eggs and sperm are shed into the water column, and fertilized eggs develop into free-swimming feeding larvae. The larvae develop through several stages before settling and metamorphosing into juveniles on the mudflat. In Maine, the progression from spawn to set can take 4 – 6 weeks and juveniles grow for 1-2 years before reaching adult size (Newell and Hidu, 1986). Thus, clams may be exposed to pesticides and herbicides from different routes (waterborne vs. sediment associated) depending on stage. Given recent results suggesting that such toxins can reduce adult reproduction, in this project we combined laboratory experiments and computer modeling to address the question of how common agricultural pesticides and herbicides might impact the population dynamics of soft-shell clams.       

Modeling disturbance: fish pits
With Pete Jumars
As an extension of Pete's interest in the effects of biota on acoustic backscatter, and my interest in the effects of sediment disturbance on infaunal communitites, we are using MATLAB to model the disturbance created by fish feeding on the sediment surface in order to predict what effects such activity might have on acoustic back-scatter


cartoon of spionids losing feeding palps to fish and crab (Polychaetes in Peri)

Many infauna lose body parts exposed above the sediment surface to browsing predators. © S. Lindsay

Our confocal image of the regenerating brain in a spionid polychaete made the cover of Invertebrate Biology! (2008)


SEM of Dipolydora quadrilobata regenerated head 6 days following ablation
Dipolydora quadrilobata 6 days after ablation of anterior 5 segments (SEM).
© S. Lindsay

Histological staining can reveal past injury
in some polychaetes up to a month after they lost segments.
© S. Lindsay

G protein subunit immunoreactivity (black) localizes to palps and nuchal organs of this spionid polychaete (confocal).
© M. Tsie & S. Lindsay.

picture of many clams in a bucket
Are there population level consequences of pesticide and herbicide impacts on clam larvae and juveniles?

model output for one fish bite

A theoretical fish bite.


© 2006 -2011
Sara Lindsay
updated 09/04/2008

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