|Bienniel Open House - April 20th, 2013
The FSU Coastal & Marine Laboratory's Spring Open House is Saturday, April 20, 2013, from 10 am to 3 pm. It only happens every other year, so make sure you don't miss out! From tiny tots to those grownups who just never grew up, there will be something to educate, fascinate, and entertain everyone.
The theme this year is "The Ocean of Tomorrow", in which we recognize the importance of scientists from different backgrounds working together to solve problems related to the coastal and marine environments. As it happens, this date is also the third anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster, so the theme brings to mind the research being conducted by FSU scientists across the university.
Highlights of this year's Open House include:
- Tours of our new 65-ft. research vessel, the RV APALACHEE
- Talks by the scientists on the fascinating work that they do
- Touch tanks with critters presented by Saturday-at-the-Sea
- Interactive displays by scientists from FSU, state agencies, and conservation groups
- Silent auction with some great items and services from Friends of the Lab
- Delicious food from a local vendor, Seineyard
- Plenty of Parking
Gather your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and associates, and take a beautiful drive down to the coast for a day of fun! Can't wait to see you again!
Special thanks go to the Franklin County Tourist Development Council, Air-Con of Wakulla, Nestle, Marpan Recycling, FSU College of Business's Bill Woodyard and Pure Fishing's Keith Jones for their generous donations in support of this event.
Want to Contribute to the Silent Auction?
Money raised from your contribution to the silent auction goes directly to supporting public education about the marine life in the waters surrounding the lab, from St. Marks to Apalachicola, from the coastal waters to the deep sea. If you are interested in donating an item for the auction or in sponsoring the event, please contact Brittany Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Arrival of the New Research Vessel, RV APALACHEE
The RV APALACHEE pulled into her home port in St. Teresa, Florida, at the FSUCML at 5 PM EST on Friday, January 25th to the cheers and shouts of the staff and scientists waiting impatiently on the observation deck. The excitement built as she rounded Dog Island and entered the channel headed our way. Captain Rosanne Weglinski skillfully pulled her into the dock and everyone jumped onboard for an impromptu inspection of every nook and cranny. The vessel has a fully equipped galley, bunkroom, wet lab, dry lab, heads (one inside the ship and one on the back deck), dive platform, an A-frame, knuckleboom, and much more.
This vessel surpassed all expectations, thanks to the dedication of the builders, Geo Shipyard, Inc. (New Iberia, LA). They said they wanted us to be happy. Well, mission accomplished. A special thanks also to marine architects at Fyffe Yachts (Kemah, TX), who designed the vessel, and to Dejong and Lebet Marine Architects (Jacksonville, FL), who provided shipyard construction oversight and plan review.
On the web, you can view the vessel's specifications, the cruise calendar, and directions for scheduling research cruises.
Hellos and Farewells
Just as the tides ebb and flow, people come and go here at the lab. Join us in welcoming the new additions of 2013:
Dr. Sandra Brooke - Faculty Member (Coral Ecology, highlighted below)
Dr. Stephen Gosnell - Post-Doctoral Associate (Deep-C, highlighted below).
Jessica Cusick - Technician (Reef Fish Ecology Lab), who received her master's degree from Florida Atlantic University, working on aggression between two sympatric species of dolphin in the Bahamas and will soon be moving on to work in Dr. Emily Duval's laboratory on the main campus studying birds.
Durene Gilbert - Program Assistant (Travel, Reservations, and Payroll) - in addition to her tremendous organizational skills, good humor, and ability to streamline everything she touches, Durene brings with her a deep interest in the marine environment and is dedicated to public service by serving on a number of local boards.
Chris Malinowski - Technician (Deep-C), who received his master's degree from Florida Atlantic University, working on habitat-driven foraging in dolphins and will soon be joining Dr Coleman's lab as a Ph. D. graduate student working on reef fishes along the West Florida Shelf.
and also saying farewell to those who have left:
Drs. Randall Hughes and David Kimbro left for faculty positions at Northeastern University, starting the first of 2013, but maintain several research grants at the laboratory that are run by their very active and amazing technicians and graduate students.
Sharon Thoman - Former Program Assistant
In October of 2012, our colleague and friend, Sharon Thoman, died tragically in an automobile accident. The olive tree that we planted at the lab in her memory is a testament to how much we cared for and miss her.
Dr. Sandra Brooke is a coral ecologist who has worked around the world, from England to the Cayman Islands to Virginia and back to the UK, identifying sensitive coral reefs and informing policy decisions about management and protection of these coral reef ecosystems. She also works to ensure adequate enforcement of regulations so that sensitive ecosystems are truly protected.
From there she has worked on deep-water coral projects in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, Norwegian Fjords, South Atlantic Bight, and the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically in the Gulf of Mexico, she has conducted post-Deepwater Horizon oil spill assessments, influencing policy that will ensure protections for deep-sea coral ecosystems in the Southeastern US.
In addition to her deepwater coral work, Dr. Brooke will be finding new projects in the shallower reaches of the Gulf of Mexico, particularly right off the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory where there are a number of interesting soft-coral sponge reef assemblages. She is also continuing to work on outside projects in collaboration with scientists from the Research Council of Norway, the International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS), and her fellowship with the Marine Alliance Science Technology Scotland (MASTS). She brings an exciting new area to our research team and we are thrilled to have her.
Updates on Dr. Brooke's work with these projects will appear here.
Dr. Stephen Gosnell, Postdoctoral Associate
Dr. Stephen Gosnell is joining the marine lab as a Postdoctoral Associate on the Deep-C project. After finishing his undergraduate degree at Clemson University, Dr. Gosnell moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned a Master's degree in Statistics and a Ph. D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology.
Dr. Gosnell is particularly interested in understanding the drivers and consequences of diversity across multiple temporal and spatial scales. Projects he has worked on have included exploring how predators scare prey and ultimately change their behavior or morphology (non-consumptive effects) and how these effects can allow keystone predators to impact multiple prey populations and overall community dynamics.
For his work with the Deep-C team, Dr. Gosnell will participate in developing a food web model with our colleagues at the University of South Florida that can be used to track oil byproducts and other contaminants as they move from the water column, through small prey species, to the fish that end up on our plates. He will also be developing metrics based on fish species in the region to find ways to predict responses to activities ranging from oil spills to fishing. He will connect his ecological findings with human communities by exploring how the diversity of fish communities translates to outcomes such as fishing success, tourism revenue, and job creation in marine-related industries.
FSUCML and the Deep-C
As you may already know, the fisheries ecology group of the FSUCML is taking part in a long-term $20.5 million study being conducted by the FSU-led Deep-C Consortium, involving ten major institutions that are focused on evaluating the deep-sea-to-coast connectivity in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and the consequences of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Our group is specifically investigating the environmental consequences of petroleum hydrocarbon release in the deep Gulf on living marine resources and food web dynamics. Several research cruises have taken place, with the first occurring in July 2012 and subsequent cruises following in October 2012.
An area that they have focused on is the DeSoto Canyon where they have been collecting specimens across these habitats so that they can examine differences in the species assemblages and relative abundances of demersal fishes associated with the eastern and western walls of the De Soto Canyon and the adjacent continental slope and shelf edge. This includes sampling within the Madison Swanson Marine Reserve. FSUCML scientists, technicians, and graduate students who have participated in these cruises are finding that the DeSoto Canyon is rich in biodiversity and is also an important nursery to sharks. This is just one of the reasons this habitat is so important to survey for damage from the oil spill. For information on these cruises, read their ongoing Deep-C blog
under the Fisheries/Ecology entries. Their next scheduled cruise is coming up in early April of this year. It will again take place in the DeSoto Canyon, except this cruise will be conducted onboard the RV APALACHEE.
Deep Sea Sharks: Vastly Understudied Creatures
Deep sea sharks are understudied due to the difficulty of observing them in their home environment. Interest in uncovering the mysteries of these highly evasive species has been on the rise, mainly due to the increase in deepwater fishing. As coastal resources become exhausted, fishermen move deeper and deeper for their catch. This is a cause for concern because not much is known about these deeper dwelling organisms and it is hard to predict the effects that fishing will have on them. Luckily, deepwater research technology has advanced compared to earlier years, so opportunities for researchers and scientists to explore these areas are increasing as well.
As a matter of fact, Dr. Dean Grubbs, FSUCML Associate Research Faculty and Associate Director of Research, dedicates his research to deepwater fishes. Motivated by the challenges of studying such species, he has made some great strides in research. Recently, he was featured in the December issue of Diver Magazine which discussed his collaboration with researcher Edd Brooks of Cape Eleuthera Institute's (CEI) Shark Monitoring Program and their research findings in Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas. In this particular area, they discovered nine different shark species. They found that one species, the bluntnose sixgill, undergoes nightly migrations towards the surface but still remains relatively deep. Their study also revealed that Cuban dogfish are highly abundant in this area and seem to be thriving. Future studies in this area of the Bahamas hope to discover what other species reside down there and the dynamics of interspecies relationships (i.e. who is eating who?).
Graduate student, Zach Budreau, working on his Ph. D. in Biology under Dr. Don Levitan, is conducting research that crosses the disciplinary lines of ecology, evolution, and economics, by studying the consequences of claw loss in stone crabs (Menippe mercenaria and Menippe adina). These crabs form the basis of an important fishery and are intensively harvested throughout Florida for their delicious claws, so you can understand why scientists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have taken a particular interest in his work.
Broadly, Zach is interested in exploring the population-level effects of size- and sex-selective fishing for these animals, particularly in terms of how it affects their sex ratio, mating patterns, and reproductive output. Most of this research takes place at the Florida State University Coastal & Marine Laboratory, where he uses controlled tank experiments to examine the effects of claw loss on stone crab mating ecology, including male to male competition for mates and mate-guarding behaviors. Results from this work will ideally show how the harvest of larger, dominant males affects the average size and age at which male crabs are mating in exploited populations, and help to determine the long-term economic and genetic consequences of artificial size-selection in this system.
A second component of Zach's research explores how claw loss affects the stone crab's ability to feed. Stone crabs are ecologically important predators in local marine systems, using their huge and powerful claws to crush mussels, oysters, scallops, whelks, and a variety of other hard-shelled (and often economically important) prey species. This research investigates how loss of their claws changes foraging rates, prey size- and species-selection, and overall energy uptake for affected stone crabs. Results from his studies will help us better understand and predict the complex ways in which claw harvest impacts population structure of both stone crabs and their various prey species.
Congratulations to Florida State University Biology Major, Ashley Carreiro from Tequesta, FL, for being the 2013 recipient of the Matt Beard Memorial Undergraduate Marine Research Scholarship. Ashley conducted research during Summer 2012 addressing the question, "Do marine protected areas (MPAs) have a higher fish density, higher species diversity of fish, larger fish, and greater coral cover than unprotected reefs?", in which she used diving as a tool. She also demonstrated eagerness to accept all challenges both in class and in the field, and willingness to volunteer on diving projects when additional diving support was needed by the Academic Diving Program. Congratulations, Ashley!
FSUCML Board of Trustees Graduate Scholarship Fund
Member of the FSUCML Board of Trustees, Arthur Stern III, challenged his fellow board members to raise over $10,000 to fund scholarships for the next few years for graduate students conducting their masters or doctoral research at the FSUCML. They met their goal, and then some, resulting in an announcement going out to students to submit proposals.
Recipients of awards this year include the following:
Summer Course 2013
Field Marine Science (May 13 - May 24)
Once again, Dr. Christopher Koenig
is teaching the Field Marine Science
course at the FSUCML. This course explores the science needed to inform policy that will protect the structure and function of coastal ecosystems from the destructive influences of human activities. It focuses on understanding ecosystem dynamics, monitoring changes over time, and their effects on these systems, with special reference to the aquatic habitats in the near-shore environment of St. James Island. Students gain basic knowledge of coastal habitats and associated fauna and flora. Field sampling, carried out around St. James Island, will follow a BACI design so that resulting data will provide early warnings of habitat decline. Of particular interest is documenting changes in the seagrass meadows surrounding the marine lab.
The Classroom: Fast Facts & The Wilderness Coast
Brittany Sims, head of FSUCML Outreach, has been jazzing up The Classroom webpage as a resource for K-12 students and teachers as well as the general public. This webpage provides great information on the wildlife and biodiversity of St. Teresa and the areas directly surrounding the lab.
One new feature she developed recently that we all just love is called
Fast Facts. Fast Facts are one-page, easy-to-read fact sheets that provide general information on some of the critters found around the lab. So far, we have fact sheets on white squirrels (yes, we have them around the lab), goliath grouper, gag, and oysters. Just take a look at our Classroom page under Education (look here). All Fast Facts sheets are available as downloadable PDF files, perfect for classroom use. Make sure you check it out and broaden your knowledge of the lab's resident wildlife! Let us know if you have a favorite local animal you would like us to cover.
In addition to Brittany's Fast Facts, you can find information provided by FSUCML scientists and students on important ecosystems and marine research. Please be sure to check back frequently as we are actively working on adding to and improving this resource. Pay particular attention to
Dr. William F. "Doc" Herrnkind's wonderful booklet about the area surrounding the lab, "The Sea Life of the Wilderness Coast: The Big Picture."
Conservation Lecture Series - Talk, Talk, and More Talk
As ever, the Conservation Lecture Series runs the gamut on topics yearly from January through October. Things have been busier than usual here at the lab and we are still working on scheduling this year's lecture series, so stay tuned for more information! We plan on having some great speakers and very interesting topics as always. For now look below for scheduled lectures and be sure to come on out to the lab (in our auditorium) and join us!
April 11th, 2013. 7 PM - Dr. Amy McKenna, The Mag Lab, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Molecules of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill".
May 9th, 2013. 7 PM - Dr. Dean Grubbs, FSUCML. "Deep-Sea Sharks".
June 13th, 2013. 7 PM - Dr. Sandra Brooke, University of Southampton UK, "The Ecology of the Corals".
Updates will appear here.
Upgrades to the Lab
We are constantly improving FSUCML facilities to support our research, education, and outreach missions. Read on to learn about some of the most recent changes.
Kitchen in Grad Student House
Dan Overlin had started on the kitchen in the grad student house. Well, its done and it looks fantastic, thanks to Dan's beautiful cabinetwork. This much needed renovation creates a haven for grad students at the lab, enticing them down to do their research.
If you remember from our Fall issue,
laboratory at the FSUCML finally has very modern, water-conservative, ADA-approved bathrooms. We had to give a little (add some space to Dr. Kevin Speer's Field Marine Group lab) and take a little (the microscope room), but in the end, we got two very modern, water-efficient bathrooms with non-skid, insulated floors. This is a first for the laboratory which is otherwise entirely without insulation.
Thanks to the Associate Vice President of Facilities, Dennis Bailey, the main
Scott Cisson, Director of Grounds & Landscape Operations, sent his crew to the lab to make us beautiful on the outside. We now have fruit trees (Meyer lemon, Meiwa kumquat, and Bulbine tangerine) and butterfly gardens with a sea of mostly perennial native plants, many of which are listed below. It might look a little woeful right now after the recent frost, but come spring, every nook and cranny will be bursting with life. Below is merely a taste of the plants now gracing our landscape:
Landscaping by FSU Grounds
As if the bathroom was not enough, Facilities came to the rescue again when
Red star clusters Yellow trumpetbush
Soap aloe Orange pagoda flower
Pot of gold Cigarette plant
Rose of Sharon Dwarf ruellia
Candlebush Blue lumbago
Purple Cone Flower Hybrid coral bean
Mexican butterfly weed Iron butterfly
Friends Volunteering at the FSUCML
For students, any volunteer hours completed at the lab can be recorded as service script hours.
Are you interested in volunteering at the marine lab? If so, we can help you find the right fit, whether it's working in the lab or the field, tending to butterfly bushes, leading tours, or helping with special events like our Open House in April. There's something for everyone to do, including helping us organize volunteers! So if you have time on your hands and want to work for a good cause, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Durene Gilbert
either by email at email@example.com or phone at 850-697-4095.
2012 Friends of the FSUCML
We are indebted to the many Friends of the FSUCML who make it possible for us to take advantage of opportunities that arise that we might not otherwise be able to do. We thank you all for your donations and for the time you devote to the laboratory. The Friends donation categories include the following:
Student Friends: $5 to $24 Groupers: $500 to $999
Conchs: $25 to $99 Leatherback Turtles: $1,000 to $4,999
Sting Rays: $100 to $499 Black Tip Sharks: $5,000 to $9,999
Humpback Whales: $10,000 and above
Dir: Dr. Felicia Coleman
Assoc Dir: Mary Balthrop
Bus Mgr: Maranda Marxsen
Reservations: Durene Gilbert
Dir. Asst: Courtney Feehrer
Outreach: Brittany Sims
DSO: Alex Chequer
Dive Tech: Sonja Bridges
Captain: Rosanne Weglinski
Dr. Sandra Brooke
Dr. Felicia Coleman
Dr. Dean Grubbs
Dr. Bill Herrnkind (Emeritus)
Dr. Christopher Koenig
| Featured Article|
Dr. Sandra Brooke joins the FSUCML faculty to conduct research on coral ecology from the shallow coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the deep sea.