My graduate training was in the area of animal behavior, but I consider myself to be a general biologist,with broad interests at the organismal level. For the past 10 years my research has involved an unusual group of sponges called hermit crab sponges, which are found all over the world. I have been studying a population of these sponges, the Florida hermit crab sponge, found in the NE corner of the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of Dog Island. In addition to the sponges, I am studying the different hermit crab species found in the Dog Island area and aspects of the hermit crab sponge/hermit crab association. In the Dog Island area the individual hermit crabs that are typically found using sponge shelters, are members of two of the 6 species commonly encountered, either Pagurus impressus or Paguristes hummi. Some of the courses which I enjoy teaching at Coe are Diversity of Life, Environmental Studies, Evolution, and Animal Behavior. In April 1999, I was pleased to be honored by the Iowa Academy of Science as Distinguished Iowa Science Teacher of the Year (College/University level) at the annual meeting of the Academy in Des Moines.
It is the nature of scientific inquiry that research on one subject often leads one to pursue subjects that go in new, and previously unforseen, directions. In addition to my on-going hermit crab research,a current research project involves an investigation of the chemical and physical nature of the glassy skeleton in sponges representing several different taxonomic groups and a study of the p tubeworm chaetopterus and the crabs that live in its tube as symbionts. In addition, in 2000 I wrote a one man play, "Darwin Remembers," about the life and work of Charles Darwin. Periodically, I perform the play for interested audiences.
Some recent publications on the subject of hermit crabs and hermit crab sponges include:
Sandford, F., 2003. "Population dynamics and epibiont associations of hermit crabs (Crustacea: Decapoda: Paguroidea) on Dog Island, Florida,"Memoirs of Museum 60(1):45-52.
Sandford, F., 2001. "Shared Use of a Single Hermit Crab sponge by two individual, Pagurus impressus". Bulletin of Marine Science, 69(3):1239-1242.
Sandford, F., and C. Brown. 1997. "Gastropod shell substrates of the Florida hermit-crab sponge, Spongosorites suberitoides , Bulletin of Marine Science, 61(2):215-223.
Sandford, F., and M. Kelly-Borges. 1997. "Redescription of the hermit-crab sponge, Spongosorites suberitoides. Journal of Natural History, 31:315-328.
Sandford, F. 1995. "Sponge/shell switching by hermit crabs, Pagurus impressus. Invertebrate Biology, 114(1):73-78.
Sandford, F. 1994. "The Florida Hermit-crab sponge, a little know 'mobile' sponge from the NE corner of the Gulf of Mexico, and its Hermit Crab Associations", 273-278. In: Sponges in Space and Time, R. Van Soest, T. Van Kempen & J. Braekman (eds), Proceedings of the IVth International Porifera Congress, 19-23 April 1993, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Balkema, Rotterdam, 515 pp.
When I'm not at Coe, I can often be found working in my garden or involved in some do-it-yourself project. I like to keep active and have a daily exercise regimen that involves either jogging, speed walking, swimming, tennis, or weight training. I enjoy travel and have participated in two Earthwatch expeditions to the barrier reef of Belize in 1997 and to the Peruvian Amazon to study macaws in 2002. I also am a field rep for Earthwatch in the state of Iowa. I enjoy hiking and in October 1999 during a sabbatical leave I solo-hiked about 150 miles of the scenically beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast Path in S. Wales. In 2002, during a visit to Ireland I hiked part of the Kerry Way. I frequently talk to school or social groups about topics of interest (e.g. environmental issues, genetic issues, Native Americans). More information about me is available at the Biology Dept Web Site.
Biology of the Seashore on Dog Island, FL
Hermit Crab Sponges
Short biography of Charles Darwin
"Darwin Remembers" - a play for one actor
Expanded Personal Web Page