Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Life of A Marine Biologist: Week 4 USFSP

I thought this week helped me learn key research skills that I can use for my future research. Even though, the identification of different species is very tedious and takes a lot of time, it was fun to identify the different species of fish. The identification of the different species of plankton was proven to be difficult because they all looked similar. I liked how we got to conduct our own research project based on the data that was given to us. I was able to gain research skills that can help in my college career further down the road.
     I really enjoyed learning about the deep sea because that is an area of study that I have interest in. On the ocean floor the types of organisms that you find there are very different from what you find in the pelagic zone. At the sea floor, hydrothermal vents are present that can support organisms. Because oxygen is very low at the floor, photosynthetic bacteria are not present. The chemicals that come out of the hydrothermal vents support chemosynthetic bacteria, which does not need to photosynthesize. We also learned about sea mounts that can also be present on the sea floor. These are formed by magma coming up to the surface from the mantle, and this happens underwater. With these communities cold seeps can also be observed. This happens when methane or hydrogen sulfide and oil seep out of the sediment to go up to the surface. I thought the
ecology of the ocean floor very interesting.
       The evolution of new species was also interesting. Speciation refers to the mechanism by which a new species arises. Allotropic speciation is when two or more populations become geographically isolated, and the flow between the two population’s stops. This can be done by vicariance, which is the geographical isolation of subspecies overtime that can lead to speciation. We also talked about ecological efficiency of whales. Whales are higher on the trophic level but they do not eat a lot of fish, they prefer plankton. Whales eat a lot of plankton because they do not have to waste energy chasing after their food. It is efficient to eat a lot of the little organisms lower on the trophic scale to gain the most amount of energy.
        My favorite part of this week was going to The Florida Aquarium, and participating in behavioral studies of certain species. .It was interesting to learn about the procedure that is involved with doing an animal behavior study, and learn what behaviors animals partake in their natural habitat. This information is collected and analyzed to answer some research questions. Feeding, maturity, and grooming behaviors are important to look for, because these behaviors can change in response to stressors. Studying animal behavior has always been an interest of mine, especially when it comes to studying the behavior of dolphins.
        Even though, we did not go on the Weatherbird II for the research cruise, this week has taught me a lot. It taught me how to answer specific research questions, and how to do the statistical analysis for it. It was interesting to identify the organisms that were found typically in the lower depths of the ocean that we do not find in the pelagic zone. The open ocean is a very complex ecosystem, I liked learning about it. 

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