Author Archives: Colin Purrington

About Colin Purrington

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Conference poster full of tips for creating conference posters

In case you need a quick guide to making a conference poster, here are two versions of my poster of poster tips. They have content overlap, so just choose the layout that pleases you. More details below the images.

Poster example (Colin Purrington's)Advice on designing scientific posters

Both posters are descendants of a document I created circa 1997 for my evolution students at Swarthmore College. The bottom one is available as a PDF if you want to print an actual poster of it — which I highly recommend if you are assigning a poster project for your class (students don’t like reading the website, below).

My full tips are at “Designing conference posters“. I created the website for my students, too, but eventually made it public in case it might help make the world’s poster sessions more enjoyable and their posters easier to understand. Please share with your friends.

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Toothed fungus

Toothed fungus emerging from a dead tree in late winter. I really enjoy a tiny fungus that’s just getting started because you can see the small details that are lost in photographs of larger specimens. For this one, it’s all about those yellow-tipped teeth and the translucent, waxy margins. It was growing on a log with hundreds of small, dried brackets so perhaps it’s Steccherinum ochraceum just getting started. But the margins are waxy, not fluffy, so Basidioradulum radula (Schizoporaceae) and Mycoacia fuscoatra (Meruliaceae) might be better ID. Finally, Radulomyces molaris (Pterulaceae) looks similar. And I’m sure there are dozens of other possibilities— there are several million species of fungi.

Colin Purrington Photography: Fungi &emdash; Toothed crust fungus in a bark cave

The above illustrates the flip side of photographing cute, immature fungi … they are hard to ID, especially if you don’t know much about fungi. I’ll have to go back in a few weeks to see what it looks like after some warmer weather. Without spores to examine for shape and size it might be hard to decide, so I really need to invest in a microscope. If you have an opinion on the ID, please leave a comment — I’d be grateful for any tips, even if it’s just a recommendation on a guide book for a newbie.

Colin Purrington Photography: Fungi &emdash; Toothed crust fungus in a bark cave

In trying to learn more about these species, I was struck by how ignored crust fungi are by mycologists and how they are left out of most field guides. The only interesting thing I could find was an article by Dimitrios Floudas lamenting this obscurity:

“The feeling of collecting these fungi is rewarding, but the frequent lack of people to share this excitement is discouraging.” 

Wise words for many taxa, I think.

Here’s a nice guide if you find yourself with an unidentified crust. You never know when that’s going to happen. 

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Pyractomena borealis mouthparts

Here are four anterior close-ups Pyractomena borealis. The telescoping head allows the larva to inject (via curved, hollow mandibles) a numbing agent into snails that have retreated inside their shells. The antennae and maxillae are also partially retractable. When a larva is done feeding on a snail (or slug or earthworm) it will de-slime all of these parts with the hooked, fingerlike projections of the holdfast organ (pygopod) located on the last abdominal segment. The head is also fully retractible (see previous post). These larvae are extremely active, so really hard to photograph.

 Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Pyractomena borealis mouthparts

 Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Pyractomena borealis mouthparts

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Pyractomena borealis mouthparts

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Pyractomena borealis mouthparts

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Pyractomena borealis

Pyractomena borealis (Lampyridae) exploring the surface of trees on a warm winter day in February. The third photograph shows how they can retract their head under the carapace like a turtle. At first I thought they might be foraging — they are highly predaceous, and hunt slugs and earthworms (in packs!) by first injecting them with paralytics. But they might have just been looking for a place to pupate, because it’s time for that. Adults will emerge sometime in early Spring to be the first fireflies in the area. The larvae are bioluminescent, too. The hypothesis about why the larvae glow is that it evolved first as an aposematic trait in larvae, warning mice and toads of the presence of lucibufagins, steroidal toxins in the hemolymph. It’s thought that the adult habit of using flashes is secondarily evolved, millions of years after the larvae evolved the ability to glow. The ability of larvae to glow even predates the origin of the Lampyridae, I gather. For more enlightening details, see Branham and Wezel (2003)Stanger-Hall et al. (2007), and Martin et al. 2017.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Pyractomena larva

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Pyractomena larva

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Pyractomena larva

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Rhizomorphs of honey mushroom (Armillaria)

Some photographs of Armillaria (honey mushroom) underneath the bark of a dead tree. The rhizomorphs look like plant roots but they are filled with hyphae, which sometimes emerge in a more classical mycelial fan. If you find these in your backyard, look for bioluminescence on a cloudy, moonless night. Just give your eyes about 20 minutes to acclimate.

 Colin Purrington Photography: Fungi &emdash; Honey mushroom (Armillaria sp.) rhizomorphs

 Colin Purrington Photography: Fungi &emdash; Honey mushroom (Armillaria sp.) rhizomorphs

Colin Purrington Photography: Fungi &emdash; Honey mushroom (Armillaria sp.) rhizomorphs

Colin Purrington Photography: Fungi &emdash; Honey mushroom (Armillaria sp.) rhizomorphs

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