04 December 2017

End of a project

Eight years ago and three months ago, I started a project to accommodate Jessica Murph’s request to do fieldwork (she was a student in the NSF REU program I ran then). It was a simple project to try to figure out some basic biology of the local sand crab species, Lepidopa benedicti.

Jessica finished her year in the program, and I kept going. And going.

Along the way, the project yielded three papers (Murph and Faulkes 2013, Faulkes 2014, 2017). The last paper covered up this project from 2011 to the end of 2015, and I have gathered two more years of data, making it seven calendar years of continuous monthly samples.

It’s a project where I genuinely felt I learned a lot. There was, at the start of this project, very little known about any species of this family. This project was a good first step in understanding the natural history not just of L. benedicti, but the family. And I found a species that had never been documented in the area before.

There were times when things got crazy when I could just think to myself, “I have to go to the beach.” They were good opportunities to decompress.

That project came to a close for the foreseeable future yesterday.

Posting here has been slow this semester, because I stuff that I didn’t want to blog about. It’s good stuff, not bad! I have some big plans that start early next year that I am very excited about.

But for every door that opens, one closes. These projects will be taking me away from South Texas, and I’m not going to be able to visit my field site for a while. I can’t go collect and measure “my” sand crabs.

I’ve had other projects that have ended before, but I can’t think of another that ran so long. It’s tough knowing that I still have questions that I will only be able to answer by collecting, and not knowing if or when I might be able to pick up the project again. Even if I do, I won’t have the bragging rights of a nice, continuous record.

On the plus side, I do still have two more years of field data in the can that I can analyze. I hope that I might be able to squeeze one more paper out of this project.

But I’m still a little sad.


Faulkes Z. 2014. A new southern record for a sand crab, Lepidopa websteri Benedict, 1903 (Decapoda, Albuneidae). Crustaceana 87(7): 881-885. https://doi.org/10.1163/15685403-00003326

Faulkes Z. 2017. The phenology of sand crabs, Lepidopa benedicti (Decapoda: Albuneidae). Journal of Coastal Research 33(5): 1095-1101. https://doi.org/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-16-00125.1

Murph JH, Faulkes Z. 2013. Abundance and size of sand crabs, Lepidopa benedicti (Decapoda: Albuneidae), in South Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist 58(4): 431-434. https://doi.org/10.1894/0038-4909-58.4.431

Photo by Karren Faulkes. Thanks, mom.

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