Our lab is excited to welcome Erin Johnston as a Master student in September of 2019. Before joining the lab at Cal Poly, Erin worked on yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis, formerly Seriola lalandi) distribution, life history, and age in the Southern California Bight in San Diego, where she received her BS in Marine Biology from UCSD. She then worked on recreational fisheries catch data in Orange and LA County for the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. She will be investigating the effects of climate variability on nearshore groundfish species of the Central California coast in collaboration with the Wendt lab. Welcome Erin!
Where in the world is the parrotfish research team? Master's student Hannah Rempel and undergraduate research assistants Emma Barton and Peter Vanderbloomer are studying the impacts of parrotfish grazing on coral communities for three months this summer on Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. This work is part of a broader study comparing patterns and impacts of parrotfish grazing across multiple regions of the Greater Caribbean.
The focus of our work this summer is to: (1) track the healing of an endangered, frequently targeted coral species from parrotfish grazing scars, and (2) compare how the intensity of parrotfish predation on corals varies on islands with high coral cover (e.g. Bonaire) compared to ones with comparatively low coral cover (e.g. St. Croix).
What have we been up to? So far, we have mapped and monitored >100 coral colonies with >250 parrotfish grazing scars! We photograph these individual scars every few days and analyze these images to determine coral healing rates. We are also recording information on parrotfish feeding preferences, parrotfish population size, and coral community composition. Later, we will assess what characteristics of scars, corals and reef sites influence coral recovery rates.
When we are not underwater, we've been organizing a citizen science project with Dive Friends Bonaire to monitor populations of the largest three Caribbean parrotfish species. In addition, Hannah is giving public talks on this research in both English and Dutch Caribbean creole at the Bonaire National Parks Foundation (where she worked before starting her master's) .
It is time for the team to get back underwater and get more data! We look forward to sharing the results of our work with you all in the future.
Thanks for your interest in our field work! Masha danki, muchisima gracias, dank u wel!
Both a graduate student and undergraduate from the parrotfish project team have been awarded funding to support their upcoming research this summer:
Master's student Hannah Rempel has been awarded research grants by the Harvard Travelers Club Permanent Fund, American Museum of Natural History Lerner-Gray Fund for Marine Research and the Dr. Earl H. and Ethel M. Myers Oceanographic and Marine Biology Trust. This summer, Hannah will be leading field research on the impacts of parrotfish predation on coral communities on Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. This work was also made possible by a in-kind donation by Dive Friends Bonaire, who are providing scuba tanks for this research and from private community donors both in the US and Bonaire.
Undergraduate Student Emma Barton has been awarded a Bill and Melinda Frost undergraduate research award to support her work as a field research assistant this summer. Emma has been a member of the lab for 4 years and is an avid scuba diver– this will be her first opportunity to conduct coral reef field research. In addition, Emma was awarded a Sea of Tomorrow Scholarship & Sid Aconsky “Measure Twice, Cut Once” Scholarship to support her purchase of scuba gear for this research.
Congratulations Hannah and Emma! We thank all who have provided both funding and logistical support for this upcoming field work!
Hannah was awarded Best Poster Presentation at the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean! Congratulations Hannah! Check her poster here.
She was also awarded a AMLC Student Travel Award and a Cal Poly Graduate Presentation Award that allowed her to attend this conference and is thankful for funding to support her travel to present at this conference!
Alex Marquardt just returned from the Triennial meeting of the World Aquaculture and National Shellfisheries Societies in New Orleans, LA! She presented her first year of data collection on Pismo clam population trends in Central and Southern California! The presentation was well received! Lots of great comments, questions, and ideas for future research!
Thank you CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science, and Technology (COAST) and the National Shellfisheries Association for travel funds which made this trip/presentation possible!
We are excited to announce that Madelyn Roycroft received the 2019 California Sea Grant State Fellowship! The purpose of the California Sea Grant's State Fellows Program is to provide a unique educational opportunity for graduate students who are interested both in marine resources and in the policy decisions affecting those resources. This year, 24 fellows were selected and matched with 17 different host agencies throughout the state. Through a rigorous selection process in Sacramento, Madelyn was matched with the Port of San Diego-Aquaculture and Blue Economy Program.
As the aquaculture and Blue Economy fellow, Madelyn will assist with a variety of current and upcoming pilot projects to support the growth of shellfish and seaweed aquaculture in San Diego Bay through the Port's Blue Economy Incubator program, In addition, she will participate in the San Diego Ocean Planning Partnership to collaborate on an ocean planning pilot in the ocean space offshore San Diego County, and will assist with mitigation banking projects and drafting grant proposals and planning documents (e.g. CEQA, Coastal, Army Corps of Engineers, Regional Water Quality Control Board). Madelyn is looking forward to having the chance to contribute to a variety of projects that share a common theme to promote sustainable ocean activities for the Port of San Diego and San Diego citizens.
Hannah gave a public talk on 'Conservation, Corals & the Caribbean' at 7Sisters Brewing Co. She presented on her previous research studying the patterns of coral predation and coral healing on St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, and future research conducting a comparative study on Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean.
Thank you to everyone who came to hear about our research!
Emily K., Senior in Biology, started a pilot mark-recapture study for Pismo clams on Pismo Beach!
Mark-recapture studies are a tool to estimate population size. In the simplest form, you “mark” a number of individuals and release them back into the environment. You later return to “recapture” individuals. Based on how many individuals are marked vs. not marked, you can estimate how large your population size is, understand individual growth rates (i.e. how much does a clam actually grow in a year?), and get an idea of mortality rates.
For her senior project, Emily tested several tagging options to mark Pismo clams and be able to identify individuals. Ultimately, she found a metal tag paired with a numbered tag was easy to detect through the sand. On December 8th, we set up a pilot study! A total of 50 clams were marked using Emily’s methods. In the coming months, we will attempt to find these clams again. If all goes well, this will be the start of a longer mark-recapture study. This is an exciting step towards understanding how far Pismo clams move across the beach and how quickly they grow on Pismo Beach!
Well, we're a collection of science-minded marine misfits