Research Project Descriptions
1. Black Mangrove Expansion: Salt marshes are an important habitat system in the coastal bend. Mangroves, while also very productive marine systems in other areas, are a recent addition to the coastal bend as global climate change expands their habitat and are replacing marshes in many areas. This project is examining the nektonic and benthic communities in both habitats to determine the effects of mangrove expansion on biological communities.
2. Predator Prey Interactions:
- Experiment I: Oysters and clams alter the structure of their shells in response to the presence of predators in their environments. This project investigates the differences in oyster responses to predation threat based on the information source indicating predation risk.
- Experiment II: Prey may detect and categorize predation risk based on chemicals produced by predators themselves (direct) or by other injured prey organisms (indirect). This study will compare the effects of direct and indirect predation cues on oyster response.
- Experiment III: Blue crabs and mud crabs likely play different roles in oyster reef ecology as mud crabs are constantly present on reefs and blue crabs move in and out of the system. This study will investigate the role each play in determining oyster morphology.
3. Depositional History of Tidal Flats: Sediments in marine and fresh water settings record the depositional history of the water body. Since tidal flats fluctuate between dry and submersed condition, chemical analysis of their sediments can indicate climate and environmental impacts such as droughts, wet periods, fires, and pollution events.
4. Wave Action: Physical forces are a powerful influence on the biology of the system, affecting organisms ability to forage, mate, and move as well as altering the presence of absence of predators, prey, and competition. This study is investigating the impacts of wave action on the species composition and size of organisms in systems of varying wave exposure.