Reporting from the Road: MSCers @ BEM 2012

Hello from the South!

I and six other MSC grads are at the Benthic Ecology Meeting in Norfolk, VA!

This year we decided to be adventurous and drive all the way from Nahant; the highlight of the trip was crossing the 20-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel complete with dolphin and cool bird sightings.

I’ve been enjoying catching up with old friends, colleagues, and advisors (my undergrad, MS, and PhD advisors all under one roof -yay!) and hearing about exciting, current research from students and faculty. Some highlights of talks I really enjoyed so far…

Dr. Sarah Henkel is doing the ground work (conducting baseline surveys) to look at possible community effects of setting up buoy systems for wave energy development off the coast of the Pacific Northwest by identifying how infaunal communities vary over depth, longitudinal and habitat type (sediment/grain type). Dr. Henkel put the potential impact of these buoys in perspective – the anchors are roughly the size of a standard two-story house and the buoy is about the size of a small high rise building. Once an array is established you’ve got yourself a small city and suburb underwater! These baseline community surveys will be essential for making informed decisions about where to establish such technology.

Justin Campbell, a student in Dr. Fourqurean’s Lab of FIU, did an in situ ocean acidification study for an entire year (!) using a pretty nifty experimental design to pump CO2 onto seagrass beds to look at OA effects on the seagrass epiphyte community.  Justin found that CO2, but not nutrients (eutrophication), had negative effects on calcifying epiphytes but positive effects on fleshy epiphytes causing a change in the epiphyte community structure with ocean acidification.

Jeremy Long, invoking the wisdom of Missy Elliott, explained how snails answer the question “is it worth it?”, when choosing between avoidance of predators or foraging, depends on traits of the plants they are feeding on.

All the MSCers that have presented so far have done an awesome job! Looking forward to seeing the rest of my colleagues show off their research!

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