Saturday, 3 June 2017

A Life of a Marine Biologist: FGCU

    My favorite part about this week was when we learned about Estuarine Benthic Habitats in both hard and soft bottom communities. The southwest coastal marine environment of Estero bay is a home for many benthic habitats such as oyster reefs. The living organisms, such as oysters, can build up and shape the coastline in conjunction with the sea level rise. Estero bay is also considered an estuary habitat because the salt water from the ocean is mixed and influenced by the freshwater coming from the Imperial River.
    We learned about how the present of oyster reefs can affect other factors within a hard bottom community. With the Shannon’s index that we calculated, had a positive correlation with the presence of oysters. If there were oysters present, the diversity was high. This is because the oysters were filtering out the waste in that habitat giving the water a lower turbidity. When the oysters were observed in that habitat, the ecosystem had more structure promoting more biodiversity among organisms. The opposite is true when the oysters were not observed in this ecosystem. When the turbidity of the water was very high, it caused higher light attenuation, and lower species diversity was measured.
    We also learned about soft bottom habitats where sea grass was the most dominant. In order to have high functional diversity, many different species need to have different ecological roles. The habitat needed to have structure, and a large amount of sea grass that can photosynthesize properly. This also ties into the turbidity of the water, the lower the turbidity of the water the more sea grass is present because light is a limiting factor. In the areas where the water is more turbid, algae was more present in the water as compared to the amount of sea grass. We also found an interesting correlation between the amount of star grass that was present in a site, and the amount of brittle stars that were observed on the bottom. This might have happened because the water was very shallow, and had the lowest turbidity out of all the sites that were visited.

    This week was a lot of hard work, and a lot of fun at the same time. It was awesome being on the boat every day, and doing species surveys. I am excited for next week in St. Pete! 

1 comment:

  1. Great post Taylor! I'm also curious about the correlation between the Star Grass and the Brittle Stars.