Each month the Burke Blog will introduce a new "-ology." The suffix -ology simply means "the study of ______." Hook up -ology with the scientific name of your area of interest and voilà, an -ology is born. For a complete list of -ologies ranging from acarology to zymology click here.
This month, I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite -ologies: ICHTHYOLOGY. Contrary to its pronunciation, it is not the study of things that gross people out (unless fish fall into that category for you in which case you’re looking for ichthyophobia.) I digress.
|Ichthyology = the study of fish|
ES: What are some common misconceptions about ichthyologists?
KM: I guess most people assume that if you work on fish it is the commercial species, such as salmon. We spend most of our time in the Burke Fish Collection trying to educate people about the other 30,000 species of fishes in the world.
|Katherine Maslenikov manages the Burke fish collection.|
KM: There are more species of fishes than all other vertebrates combined. They are fascinating to study in terms of evolution and adaptation. Most people have some connection with fishes- whether it is to eat them in a restaurant, go catch them in the wild, or keep them in an aquarium. Fishes are valuable resources that need to be well managed and conserved.
ES: What is your favorite fish?
|Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker|
ES: What is the most interesting research project to use the Fish Collection this year?
KM: One of our graduate students, Chris Kenaley, just finished up his Ph.D. on a group of deep-sea dragonfishes (family Stomiidae), showing the unique visual system using far-red light-producing cephalic photophores. Basically, there are many deep-sea animals that produce light (bioluminescence), but these fishes have special organs on their heads that produce a red light, which is very different from other fishes. It enables them to sneak up on their prey using this light without being detected.\
Read more about the Burke Ichthyology department here.