Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SmithFly Stream Team Winner

For almost a month submissions were emailed in to Ethan Smith and I for the SmithFly Stream Team and after going through all the essays submitted one by one, Nick Bertrand of Siren Flies was chosen as the winner, not only as a fly angler but also the work that he does as a fish biologist.  Congrats.

Angler and Biologist

Here is Nick's submission for the SmithFly Stream Team...

Dear Ethan,

I'm seeking to join your SmithFly Stream Team for two reasons.  First, I am an avid fly fisherman and fly tyer developing a blog centered on Texas Fly Fishing and Fly Tying. The second, and I feel more vital reason I am seeking your aid, is my profession as a fish biolgist.  I am finishing up my Masters of Science at Texas A&M University.  My thesis is a description of the evolutionary patterns of heterodonty in fishes.  Heterodonty is the presence of more then one tooth type in the jaws of an animal.  Humans like most mammals are heterodonts.  However, this character has been very poorly studied in bony fishes.  My research has shown there are atleast fifteen tooth types in fishes which is immense compared to the four tooth types mammals possess (molars, canines, incisors, and premolars).  Preliminary results of my evolutionary study of teeth shows that the different types of teeth as well as the different combinations of teeth have evolved multiple times in very distantly related groups of bony fishes.

Fish Teeth

I'm sure your wondering what kind of game fish are heterodonts.  Just name a few...redfish, grouper, surf perch, and sheepshead are all heterodonts.  Additionally, my written contribution to the dental systems of fishes will be the largest review of the topic since 1845.  To put that date in context, Sir Richard Owen, who wrote the last major work, literally had tea with Charles Darwin.  The data for this research is driven by two sources.  The first source is active collection of fish specimens from the wild.  Such field work requires a mobile means of transporting equipment from site to site and an efficient way to organize it to specific field research needs.  SmithFly gear offers an excellent means to organize and keep my field gear mobile.  As just one example, often genetic samples are taken along with preservation of the whole specimen.  The two samples require different chemicals and different tools to take the sample.  This means I carry two different tool sets for each task with me on the water.  For genetic samples we often carry many small tubes and keep them on our person in case something unexpected shows up in our nets.  The second way I acquire information about the teeth of different species is to visit research collections in Museums.  Last year I was awarded a grant to visit the Smithsonian and I have applied to visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York this year.  These trips are actually more intensive in terms of the equipment I must have on my person.  When working at museums out side of Texas I have carry all the dissection equipment I could possibly need such as photography equipment and all my data recording devices (laptop,notebook, etc).  In places like Washington D.C. and New York public transportation means that I carry everything on my person everyday to and from the museum.  Additionally I have two more planned trips to make to museums in Texas.  Thus the SmithFly gear will aid in visits to both the field and research collections. 

The modular system your equipment provides will allow me tailor my bags for each kind of trip and organize the many different items I need for my research.  I have attached my CV and photo of some various fish teeth. I have begun a fly tying blog as well. I would be happy to review any gear you provide on here and I could also review it in terms of scientific use in light of my research.

I hope to be working with you soon.


Nick Bertrand

For more information check out the SmithFly website and add Siren Flies to your RSS feed as well.