This is an old revision of the document!

Initial Notes

These are initial notes for this paper. Let's get started…

Journal possibilities:

Philosophy of Science Journals: (this is just an initial survey of what's out there in philosophy of biology, I'll try to dig through these journals and see which would be best)

Biology and Philosophy

Journal of the History of Biology

Acta Biotheoretica

Theory in Bioscience


EPSA Epistemology and Methodology in Science

Biology Journals (relevant articles):

Fisheries Research: (Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) biology and ecology: A review of the primary literature ; Stevens, J.D.)

Journal of Fish Biology: (A review of the biology and ecology of the whale shark; Colman, J. G.; Journal of Fish Biology ; 1997)


  1. Are disparate whale shark research efforts and techniques converging on a greater understanding of the species?
  2. Are existing technologies sufficient to understand the species' life history? Are new technologies needed?
  3. Can we say anything conclusive about the species at this point?
  4. How/where could the field integrate disparate efforts?

Points to Ponder:

1. I've been looking through the articles I cited above, and thinking about what will distinguish our paper from those. Obviously, much has changed in the years since they were published, and we could just look at our project as an update of the “whale shark-ology status report” given the recent work of Ecocean. However, what really intrigues me is the relationship of changing technology and whale shark-ology–for instance, what is possible or affoardable now that wasn't 10 years ago, and how should changing technology shape the research efforts of the next generation of scientists.

I'm gonna try to track down some popular science magazine coverage of ocean sensor technology, and I'm also going to go to my professor's office hours this week–she is a marine mammal biologis–and ask her for related information.

2. Thinking about the frame for our paper and how to organize research–I was trying to imagine the “ideal investigation” of whale sharks. If you were Paul Allen and wanted to build a whale shark research program and fund it with 20 billion dollars, how would you do it?

I think, at our last meeting, you mentioned the idea of building submersibles to follow animals for a year, and that suggests an important point. The state of whale shark knowledge is basically limited to the places that they are easy to observe, but we have really no idea of what fraction of thier lives are spent in these places.

So, my suggestion is that we should ponder how emerging technologies could fill in the gaps in whale shark behavior–Possibly new sensor tags, or autonomous submersibles. But also maybe an analysis of their genome (probably a decade away) that could suggest answers–for example, do whale sharks have genes associated with metabolism and gas exchange in deep water/high pressure environments? If whale sharks have these genes and they are associated with promoter regions, then perhaps we could argue that the animals are regularly making proteins needed for deep water living and thus are probably living much of thier lives in deep water.

Existing technologies

Just a list of what's available.

  1. DNA - microsatellite markers