I have been hard at work analyzing data and trying to tell a clear story about my research. I also just came back from DC where I interviewed for jobs through the Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship and starting in February I will be working with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Smithsonian as an Ocean Science Educator and Communications Specialist. A lot of big words, I know, but it basically means I'm going to get to hear about all the cool science that NMFS and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) are doing and then get to share that information in a fun way with everyone else!
I am still in the writing and editing process of finishing my thesis, but we found some cool results. The low intertidal is a better habitat for epiphytes, epifauna, invertebrate diversity, and bacteria! We think its because the low intertidal spends more time underwater and keeps all of the animals living on Gracilaria happier!
I am starting to write up my results from my Gracilaria genetic manipulations this summer, so I am meeting with everyone involved this week to talk about them! It is always good to have other eyes look at the same data to make sure there are no mistakes. It looks like we have some differences between monocultures (1 genotype) and polycultures (6-8 genotypes), but you will have to stay tuned to see what they are!
I am currently working on amphipod abundance surveys and amphipod predation assays, as well as, analyzing my data from my Gracilaria field experiments. The number of tethered amphipods remaining in the field after 24 hours has decreased. It looks like the amphipod predation rate has increased this summer while the number of amphipods in the field has decreased. I will keep you posted on my Gracilaria experiment results as they come in.
I just broke down my second field experiment. This experiment was set up the same way as the one in May. Just a quick reminder, Gracilaria was threaded through ropes and the ropes were attached to PVC poles and placed back in the field for 4 weeks. During break down, we brought all the Gracilaria into the lab and removed all of the animals and plants that were living on it by hand, and then we swabbed the Gracilaria with a giant cue tip for bacteria! Now, I am counting and identifying all of the animals that we found.
This past week consisted of massive amounts of DNA extractions and PCRs!
I have been working with undergraduates, Sarah Shainker and Connon Thomas.
Sarah Shainker continued optimizing her restriction enzyme digest (see Sarah's research page for more information about restriction enzymes!) and now has the method nailed down. She started processing Gracilaria vermiculophylla samples from the native range in Japan, Korea and China and samples from our trip to the DelMarVa peninsula. So far, results are quite interesting with very clear patterns differentiating native and non-native ranges! Stay tuned for more about her research!
Connon Thomas continued his G. vermiculophylla growth experiments manipulating salinity for several South Carolina populations. He also got his feet wet doing high-throughput (high throughput means 96 or more samples processed at once as opposed to 5 or 6 samples) microsatellite genotyping on all his algal individuals.
I spent this past week doing PCRs with Sarah and Connon plus continuing with the samples we collected this summer along the DelMarVa peninsula and in South Carolina. Samples are now being run on the capillary sequencer (see the equipment page to learn more about the capillary sequencer). This week also saw installment 7 of my monthly phenology sampling of the DNR mudflat here at Fort Johnson. Though we found 1 male, all other individual G. vermiculophylla fragments were sporophytes or vegetative (meaning they were not yet reproductive).
I have been hard at work helping our high school student Hannah work through traits on Gracilaria. She is looking at how the amount of organic material, protein content, surface area to volume ratio, and palatability (how yummy it is) varies between males, females, and sporophytes. Males and Females are haploid so they only have one set of genetic material (DNA, chromosomes, etc) while sporophytes are diploid meaning they have two sets of genetic material--one from mom and one from dad.
I am continuing to do feeding assays with the urchins and crabs. I also spent some time this week collecting more amphipods (and one local type of isopod). I ran a choice assay with three different amphipod species and the isopod to see which animals would behave best for our experiment. While all of the animals behaved and consumed food from the feeding strips, we ultimately decided to continue on with Ampithoe valida since it is the most abundant species around Grice Marine Lab.
Courtney, Meredith, and I also collected some Diopatra from the mudflat and brought them into the lab in order to run an experiment with the Gracilaria chemistry we extracted last week. We are currently keeping an eye on the worms to make sure that they are happy and eating before running the experiment.
The Scientists Tell all!
Stay updated with what the Sotka Lab scientists have been up to with their blog posts.
Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum
40 Patriots Point Rd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
40 Patriots Point Rd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464