Our lab is excited to welcome Marissa Bills as a Master's student in September of 2020. Before joining the Cal Poly Marine Conservation Lab, Marissa was a Laboratory Assistant for California Sea Grant. Marissa's past research has focused on marine aquaculture and conservation. She will be continuing the lab's research on Pismo clams populations in California and is exploring the aquaculture potential of this species.
As part of the Cal Poly Frost Summer Undergraduate Research Program, Ellie worked with master's student Erin to study 'The Effects of Marine Heatwaves on Sebastes mystinus Growth Rate' and Abby worked with master's student Hannah to study 'Coprophagy by Herbivorous Fishes in the Caribbean'. The two recently presented their findings at the Frost Summer Research Symposium.
The Effects of Marine Heatwaves on Sebastes mystinus Growth Rate
This summer, Ellie analyzed age-at-length data for Blue rockfish during the 1982-1983 El Niño to determine the relationship between anomalous warm water events and growth rate. She constructed Von Bertalanffy growth curves before, during, and after the El Niño and found that growth appears to slow during and after warm water events for this fish species. Future directions this study could take include examining growth curves of other temperate fishes during warm water events and combining multiple datasets into a powerful predictive tool for estimating growth rates during future climate anomalies.
Coprophagy by Herbivorous Fishes in the Caribbean
Abby analyzed feces consumption (or 'coprophagy') by herbivorous parrotfishes and surgeonfishes in the Caribbean. She found that while there are species-specific differences in rates of coprophagy, the majority of species engaged in coprophagy to some extent. To determine the nutritional drivers of this behavior, Abby helped develop a lab protocol to analyze the nutritional breakdown of targeted fecal pellets. Over the next year, she will work to analyze these fecal samples and report on these findings for her senior research project, supported by a Cal Poly Baker/Koob award.
Congratulations on concluding this exciting summer research!
We extend our deepest thanks to William and Linda Frost for their generous funding of undergraduate research that helped to support this research. We look forward to sharing our findings with the broader community in the future.
Check out our recent publication on the 'Impacts of parrotfish predation on a major reef-building coral: quantifying healing rates and thresholds of coral recovery' in Coral Reefs! A read-only open access version is available here: https://rdcu.be/b5Vgl
Summary: We monitored coral tissue regeneration from parrotfish predation scars on endangered Orbicella annularis coral colonies on St. Croix and Bonaire in the Caribbean. We evaluated differences in coral healing between islands in response to a number of variables including the initial scar surface area, scar abundance per coral colony, colony surface area, and water depth. We found that initial scar surface area was the single most important predictor of scar healing and used a predictive model we developed to estimate coral tissue loss from the standing stock of bite scars. Overall, our results suggest that the majority of scars may fully heal and the immediate negative impacts of parrotfish predation on coral tissue loss appear to be driven primarily by a few exceptionally large bite scars.
We are excited to share this video talk by master's student Hannah Rempel as part of the Global Coral Reef Week conference. Learn about the patterns of coral healing from parrotfish bite scars in one of the most intensively grazed Caribbean coral species:
Yi-hui recently published a new paper on 'Spatial and temporal variation of offshore wind power and its value along the Central California Coast', available here.
Both graduate and undergraduate students alike gave fantastic presentations on their work at the Western Society of Naturalists conference in Ensenada, Mexico. Congratulations team!
See photo captions for more details on individual presentations on our labs ongoing coral reef and pismo clam research:
Travel support for undergraduates was provided by Bill and Melinda Frost. Travel support for graduates was provided by Cal Poly Graduate Education. We thank you for your support!
Well, we're a collection of science-minded marine misfits