After 10 weeks of his parasite ecology internship at Shoals Marine lab, Collin gave an excellent talk at the undergraduate research symposium at SML! Becca also was a special guest speaker at the symposium and talked about her 5 weeks of research on the island. It was a proud day for our lab! :)
Our lab recently went out sampling for all sorts of fun critters: fish, crabs, and snails! We also counted a bunch of coastal / estuarine birds... and tons of grass and snapping shrimp. Our new undergraduate researcher in the lab, Emily Edmonds, got to experience true salt marsh sampling (sinky, mucky mud). Exfoliating!!
Congratulations to Chris on his recent award through the North Carolina Wildlife Federation!! :-D
Information on the award is here: http://ncwf.org/ncwf-wildlife-scholarship-grants-available/
Chris recently received a prestigious Lerner-Gray Marine Research grant. Below is a press release by the ECU Biology department:
"Congratulations to IDPBS Ph.D. student Chris Moore on receiving a Lerner-Gray Marine Research Grant. Chris and his mentor, Dr. April Blakeslee, will use this award to develop a method for surveying biodiversity in the Pamlico and Neuse river estuaries using parasites as a proxy for overall community diversity. Many parasitic organisms require multiple hosts in order to complete their life cycles. The Blakeslee Lab hopes to determine the extent to which larval parasites in more easily collected first hosts (e.g. snails or small fish) can indicate the presence or abundance of their downstream hosts (e.g. shore birds), which are often more difficult to survey using traditional methods."
I once again had the opportunity to co-instruct a course in Baja (Baja: Field Methods) for Project Dragonfly - Earth Expeditions in early June. It was a fantastic experience... I even got to snorkel with whale sharks!!
Here are a couple images from my trip but there are many more at: www.facebook.com/pg/BajaI2017/photos/?ref=page_internal
The article about Becca and Collin is copied and pasted below from the June 2017 SML newsletter:
"SML Internship Spotlight: Parasite Ecology with Collin Love and Rebecca Barnard
During his first few weeks as an undergraduate research intern at SML, Collin Love (Michigan State University '18) has been working with graduate student Rebecca Barnard to study invasive green crabs as part of SML's new Parasite Ecology Internship. The green crab ( Carcinus maenas) made its way to the East Coast of the Unites States roughly 200 years ago and has been the subject of invasive species research throughout the Gulf of Maine, especially in recent years.
For her graduate work in Dr. April Blakeslee's lab at East Carolina University, Rebecca is interested in determining how parasites are impacting the green crab’s behavior and physiology. Later in the summer, Collin will be running his own independent research project to determine whether parasites are impacting the crab's susceptibility to predators. He predicts that infected crabs will be more likely to be eaten by shorebirds, as opposed to uninfected crabs.
As global trade and transportation increases across our oceans, the risk of introducing invasive species increases. Research such as Collin's and Rebecca’s expands our understanding of these foreign creatures and our ability to respond appropriately.Pictured Above: SML intern, Collin Love (Michigan State University '18), is extracting tissue samples from a green crab. After the tissues are removed, they are analyzed under a microscope for the presence of parasitic cysts.
Thank you to Collin and Rebecca for writing this newsletter feature and sharing your work with us!"
We have been spending a lot of time at Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) these past two months! Becca and I traveled to SML (located on Appledore Island, 6 nm off the coast of Portsmouth, NH) in late May and got her set up for one of her projects for her master's degree. Becca then stayed on the island to do her work and has now been on the island for almost 5 weeks. I am here now as we speak (June 26, 2017) helping her finalize her work out here and also help out summer undergraduate intern, Collin Love, do his work and prepare for his next few weeks out here doing his project. Collin was selected for the new internship that we created -- the Parasite Ecology internship -- at SML. It has been incredible and we hope to do it again next year if we can!
Becca is exploring the influence of trematode infection on competitive interactions in intertidal crabs in the region. Collin is exploring the influence of trematode infection on predation. We are also obtaining parasite survey information in snail and crab hosts around Appledore Island.
Below are some images from our work out here!
We completed our May sampling event (I'm a bit belated in posting this) back on May 19, 2017. It was definitely hotter than prior sampling events, but we managed to get all of our sites done and continue to collect interesting data -- our high salinity sites are the ones where we find our zombie crabs.
We have also recently started a collaboration with Gloria Putnam of NC Sea Grant to include some private waterfronts into our sampling, and we visited a couple of those locations to deploy some new crab condos. We very much appreciate the help and support from everyone!
Below are some pictures from our May and June sampling events!
In addition to zombie crabs, our lab has also been collecting gobies for Chris' dissertation research. During his recent research, Chris has been discovering a wide variety of parasites. Now we need to do some detective work to better understand life cycles and upstream/downstream hosts for some of these multi-host parasites. Below are a couple images that Chris has taken of his parasites.
We all made our way to the Benthic Ecology meeting in Myrtle Beach, SC, where Becca and Chris presented posters. It was an excellent meeting and we made a lot of fantastic connections.