Director's Report:  Ecosystems- the Human Dimensions

Among the challenges we face in the 21st century is how to address the repercussions of large scale sustained and punctuated events that diminish the productivity, resilience, and biological diversity of coastal and marine ecosystems. Productivity here refers to ecological production of biomass, from microbes to megafauna. Resilience -- a term bandied about much in the press, studied by the National Academy of Science, and addressed by the White House in the National Drought Resilience Partnership announced in November 2013-refers to the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure. Biological diversity refers to the variation in types of organisms and their functional role in ecosystems. These attributes are closely intertwined. Intensive fishing, for instance, while decreasing fisheries productivity can also cause declines in species diversity by removing important functional groups (i.e., top-level predators), with sometimes catastrophic consequences (e.g., trophic cascades). A threshold is crossed and recovery is compromised. Anything that affects all three attributes, then, affects the provision of essential ecosystem services - protecting shorelines, purifying air and water, detoxifying wastes, among many others-and ultimately impacts human health and economies and the sustainability of natural resources.


Humans are part of the ecosystem. That is undeniable. So whether we study the forces of hurricanes and currents, the geochemistry of the seafloor, or the accumulation of mercury in fishes, it is imperative to examine them thoroughly in the human context. Is the research relevant? What are the human risks involved? What are the political and jurisdictional constraints? Who are the stakeholders? As part of the research agenda for the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory, we consider this set of questions and the contributions we can make towards ensuring a sustainable, resilient Gulf of Mexico. This means protecting coastlines, wetlands, seagrasses, and oyster reefs and the complex community of organisms that make these architecturally complex habitats their home, habitats that provide tremendous benefits to human communities without our knowledge and often without understanding the depth of human dependence upon them.
Once the FSUCML took ownership of the RV Apalachee, it became clear that we needed a Marine Technical Operations Program to handle the burgeoning waterfront and marine technical needs of the laboratory.  We already had three hands on deck in Bobby Henderson (long-time small boat operations and resident inventor -- the man can make anything), Sonja Bridges (dive-tech extraordinaire who acted as interim DSO for 7 months to keep the Dive Program going strong), and more recently, Nicole Martin (the best marine tech ever, organizing and overseeing all equipment needs and use across the lab). To round out the group, we now have Jon Schneiderman as Marine Ops Manager and Diving Safety Officer, Robbie Shakespeare as 1st boat captain, and Bobby Francis as 2nd boat captain.   This group works together seamlessly and has already enhanced the capacity of the FSUCML to support coastal and marine research, whether in the laboratory or on a vessel offshore.  Each of these people brings very special skills, a wealth of knowledge, and a wonderful attitude.  
Meet the new Marine Operations Group.  L to R.  Bobby Henderson, Sonja Bridges, Nicole Martin, Bobby Francis, Jon Schneiderman, and Robbie Shakespeare.
Jon has over 20 years of experience in diver training, underwater photo-graphy, operating vessels of all sizes (including a liveaboard dive boat in Belize and the Bahamas), and running a water sports shop in Panama. Robbie has captained everything from research vessels to tugs and tankers. He worked throughout the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic, including Brazil and Bermuda, topped off with extensive foreign travel. Last, but not least, is Bobby (the other one), a five-year Navy veteran who served as navigator on a navy destroyer and brings to the lab experience with communications, electronics, and comprehensive vessel support. He also comes with some history with the lab, having graduated from FSU with a degree in anthropology and underwater archaeology.  
Now you know who to ask if you have any questions about operations on the waterfront.  
The Underwater Symphony:  Noisy Fish  
by Dr. Chip Cotton
Spotted sea trout, painting by Diane Rome Peebles.

Have you ever been standing on a coastal dock, diving on a coral reef, or perhaps anchored on a quiet spot in the estuary when you heard a thumping, booming, or grunting sound?  You were most likely hearing the drumming sounds of a fish!  Most people are aware that marine mammals (e.g., whales, dolphins) can produce sound, but perhaps fewer realize that sound production is wide- spread across a variety of so-called "soniferous" fish species, with Family names like "drum" (Sciaenidae) or "grunt"(Haemulidae) denoting those taxa in which sound production is especially prevalent among species. 

Fishes can produce sounds in a variety of ways.  For instance, some use , rapid contraction of "sonic" muscles adjacent to the swim bladder (imagine rubbing your thumb across a balloon); while others use "chattering" of teeth or other hard structures of the jaws or stridulation (rapid rubbing) of skeletal elements.  Although sound production is undoubtedly used for some form of communication (either for courtship, aggression, frigh t,  or territoriality), the specific type of communication is often undocumented or unclear for a given species.  However, in other species like spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), the males are known to use sound production for the purpose of attracting a mate and their sonic muscles will develop and regress with the testes during spawning season.  In other species like Atlantic croaker (Micopogonius undulatus), the sonic muscles are found in both sexes and are well developed year-round, likely indicating that sound production serves other functions (aggression, fright response, etc.) 
Big-clawed snapping shrimp. Photo by South Carolina Depart. Nat. Resources 
The ability to generate sound is certainly not limited to fishes and one of the most ubiquitous underwater sounds of the estuary is the "frying bacon" sound generated by aggregations of snapping shrimp.  This "sizzling" din is actually composed of thousands of individual "pops" of a snapping shrimp claw (Alpheus spp.)
     The underwater environment is rarely silent, usually filled with a harmony of sounds generated by a diverse collection of organisms from invertebrates to fishes to marine mammals.  Throughout Florida's estuaries and nearshore waters, especially during the summer months, these animals perform the Underwater Symphony for those of us fortunate enough to be in the audience.


Click fish sounds to learn more about them, or to hear actual fish sounds, go here:

Graduate Student Research Scholarships from FSUCML 
Thanks to the  generosity of the Friends of the FSUCML, three graduate students received scholarships to help fund their research this summer.   

Ale Mickle (Advisors, Jeff Chanton and Dean Grubbs) has been around the FSUCML since her undergrad years as a student in the Certif-icate Program in Marine Biology.  Now, she is working on her Master's Degree in the Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Science on the immitable hagfish.  Not only is she interested in their reproductivy biology, but she is defining their trophic interactions, including thetoxicity and bioaccumulation of mercury.  Her research compares three different hagfish species in the Gulf of Mexico. In her spare time, her interests includ studies of sharks and the ecology of highly migratory pelagic fishes.  
Chris Malinowski (Advisor, Felicia Coleman) is also no stranger to the FSUCML.  He came to the lab in 2012 as data manager for the fish ecology section of the Deep-C Consortium after completing his Master's degree at Florida Atlantic University on dolphins . . . our first marine mammal expert. While he still holds this position, he is starting a project soon evaluating the source and impacts of anthropogenic pollutants (e.g., nitrates, nitrites, organophosphates) in seagrass beds in shallow near-shore waters off St James Island near Lanark Reef and in the hard-bottomhabitat 70-m deep off Pulley Ridge in south Florida on the benthic communities supported in each of these habitats.   
Bianca Prohaska (Advisor Dean Grubbs)
Bianca arrived at the FSUCML after completing her Bachelor's Degree at the Florida Institute of Technology and her Master's degree at the University of New England. Her research interests are in fish ecology and physiology, as well as fish conservation. She is particularly interested in researching deep sea sharks, using plasma hormones to better understand their reproductive strategies, and blood stress parameters relative to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This will be the focus for her reseach, for which the FSUCML scholarship will be extremely helpful.

 We look forward to hearing from these grad students next year to learn more about their research. Congratulations to all.  Just a reminder that the next round of applications will be do in September 2014.

Other Grad Student Awards in 2013
Zach Boudreau (Advisor Don Levitan) - received the Jack Winn Gramling Award and an FSUCML Scholarship.
Bob Ellis (Advisor Felicia Coleman) - received the PADI Foundation Grant, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Scholarship, and Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Student Travel Award.
Jo Imhoff (Advisor Dean Grubbs) - received the Guy Harvey Award and an FSUCML Scholarship. 
Cheston Peterson (Advisor Dean Grubbs) - received the FSUCML Scholarship.
Will Ryan (Advisor Tom Miller) - received the FSUCML Scholarship.  
Spotlight  - Dr. Kelly Kingon                                             
Kelly has been a fixture around the Reef Fish Ecology Group almost since it first  arrived  at the FSUCML. She has served in the Coleman-Koenig laboratory as technician, geographer, scientist, and tour leader.  As if she didn't have enough to do, she also started pursuing her Ph. D. degree in the Department of Geography with Dr. Tingting Zhao, completing it in 2013.
        Kelly's research includes the mapping and characterization of live bottom habitats at multiple spatial scales using remote sensing and GIS tools.  She studies broad scale spatial patterns and processes that occur at the habitat-seascape interface to elucidate the environmental and physical attributes that contribute to the spatial patterns observed in benthic communities. Her focus has been on those areas with high biodiversity, covered with sessile and mobile invertebrates, from sponges and corals to crabs and octopi. By default, she has also become an expert on reef fishes, their distribution, abundance, reproduction, and feeding ecology. 
       We knew we couldn't keep her forever.  She recently accepted a Senior Instructor position at the University of Trinidad and Tobago in their new Marine Science Programmes.  She and her husband, Dale Kingon, will be off on their excellent adventure the end of April.  She hopes to continue researching reef fish ecology and mapping marine habitats in the tropics.  
The Matt Beard Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research                                      
The FSUCML is pleased to announce that Meaghan Falletti is the 2013 recipient of the Matt Beard Memorial Award.  Meagan worked in the Florida Keys this past summer studying the diet of lionfish, an invasive species from the Indo-Pacific that is now distributed throughout the Atlantic coast, from New Jersey to Florida, throughout Central America and the Caribbean. Congratulations, Meaghan. Understanding the diet provides critical informaiton about the impact of this species on the habitat that it invades and could lead to solutions for irradication.  Looking forward to seeing this body of work in print!
Other Undergraduate Research at the Lab                           


Caitlyn Buerk (FSU) has been working with Dr. Kelly Kingon identifying fish on video taken with drop cameras designed by Dr. Christopher Koenig.  The videos were all taken at Pulley Ridge on the southern portion of the West Florida Shelf during a cruise on the RV Walton Smith.  


Kathryn Chandler (FSU)
contributed to both laboratory and field work with grad student Jo Imhoff.   
She participated in the coastal shark surveys and both identified and photographed invertebrates caught during the Deep-C cruises.  


Evan Courtney (FSU) worked with grad student Zach Boudreau all summer long running a study on the effects of claw loss on predation rates in stone crabs.

Meaghan Faletti worked with grad student Bob Ellis evaluating the diet of 

lionfish that are invading Florida Bay. She presented results as a poster at the FWC Lionfish Summit and at the GCFI conference.  She is now writing the body of work up as a manuscript for publication.  


Shannon Rolfe (University of Central Florida) is working with Dr. Chip Cotton processing reproductive samples from four species of deep-water sharks. 


Kali Spurgin (FSU) is a senior undergradute biology major, has been working with Dr. Stephen Gosnell to determine how oyster growth and mortality in aquaculture settings may be impacted by the presence of predators.  She has contributed to the development of an experimental growth system currently in use at the lab.  Results from ongoing experiments may offer insight on how the burgeoning oyster farming industry in the local area needs to consider predator impacts.   


High School Students


Madison Fish (Rutherford High School, Panama City) has been coordinating with Dr. Chip Cotton to use hagfish (see picture below) slime to extract the protein threads so that they can be spun into fibers.  The research is part of a science fair project.  The hagfish are from the Deep-C fish ecology work.


FSUCML Publications 2013
  • Auster, P.J., J.A. Estes and F.C. Coleman. 2013.  Species interactions in marine communities: the invisible fabric of nature.  Bulletin of Marine Science 89:3
  • Brooke S, SW Ross (2013) First observations of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa off the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. Deep Sea Res. II DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.06.011
  • Brooke S, SW Ross, JM Bane, HE Seim, CM Young (2013)Temperature tolerance of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa from the southeastern United States. Deep Sea Research II. 92:240-248
  • Carlson, J.K., S.J.B. Gulak, C.S. Simpfendorfer, R.D. Grubbs, J.G. Romine and G.H. Burgess. 2014. Habitat use and movement patterns of smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata, determined using pop-up satellite archival tags. Aquatic Conserv: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst. 24: 104-117.
  • Coleman, FC, Thistle, A (guest editors). 2013.  Species Interactions in Marine Communities: The Invisible Fabric of Nature.  Proceedings of the Eight William R and Lenore Mote International Symposium in Fisheries Management and Ecology, November 8-10, 2011, Sarasota, Florida .  Bulletin of Marine Science 89(1).
  • Cotton, C. F., A. H. Andrews, S. B. Irvine, G. M. Cailliet, R. D. Grubbs, and J. A. Musick. 2014. Assessment of radiometric dating for age validation of deep-water dogfish (Order: Squaliformes) finspines. Fisheries Research 151:107-113
  •  Fernandez-Carvalho,J., Imhoff, J. L., Faria, V. V., Carlson, J. K. and Burgess, G. H. (2013), Status and the potential for extinction of the largetooth sawfish Pristis pristis in the Atlantic Ocean. Aquatic Conserv: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst.. doi: 10.1002/aqc.2394 
  • Fisher, R.A., G.C. Call, R.D. Grubbs. 2013. Age, Growth, and Reproductive Biology of Cownose Rays in Chesapeake Bay, Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science, 5:1, 224-235 
  • Giresi, M.M., R.D. Grubbs, D.S. Portnoy, J.R. Gold. 2013. A Morphological Key to Distinguish Among Smoothhound Sharks (Genus Mustelus) in the Gulf of Mexico. Proceedings of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute. Vol. 65. 143-146.
  • Jaap W, S Brooke, SW Ross W Arnold. In press. Key factors affecting coral reef fisheries in the eastern Gulf of Mexico (Chapter in 'Corals and Fisheries' Ed: S. Bortone).
  • Kimbro, DL, Cheng, B.S., & Grosholz, E.D. (2013). Biotic resistance in marine environments. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.12106.
  • Kolmann, M.A., D.R. Huber, M.N. Dean, R.D. Grubbs. In press. Myological variability in a decoupled skeletal system: batoid cranial anatomy. Journal of Morphology.
  • Matechik, C.V., A. Mickle, and C. D. Stallings. 2013. Experimental test of two marking methods on survival, growth, and tag retention on young of year pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 440: 49-53.
  • Nelson, J., C. D. Stallings, W. Landing, and J. Chanton. In Press. Biomass transfer subsidizes nitrogen to offshore food webs. Ecosystems.
  • Orlov, A. M., and C. F. Cotton. 2013. New data on the rare deepwater North Atlantic skate Bathyraja pallida (Forster, 1967) (Arhynchobatidae, Rajiformes). Journal of Ichthyology 53(7):465-477.
  • Reed J, CM Messing, S Brooke, T Correa, M Brouwer, T Udouj (2013) Distribution and areal extent of deep-water coral reefs off Florida, Southeastern U.S. Jnl. Carib. Res. 47(1): 13-30.
  • Stallings, C. D. and A. Dingeldein. 2012. Intraspecific cooperation facilitates synergistic predation. Bulletin of Marine Science 88: 317-318.
  • Watanabe, YY, EA Reyier, RH Lowers, JL Imhoff, YP Papastamatiou. 2013. Behavior of American alligators monitored by multi-sensor data loggers. Aquatic Biology 18: 1-8.
  • White, W. T., D. A. Ebert, G. J. P. Naylor, H. C. Ho, P. Clerkin, A. Verissimo, and C. Cotton. 2013. Revision of the genus Centrophorus (Squaliformes: Centrophoridae): Part 1 - Redescription of Centrophorus granulosus (Bloch & Schneider), a senior synonym of C. acus Garman and C. niaukang Teng. Zootaxa 3752(1):035-072.
  • Zerebecki, R., and A. R. Hughes. In press. Snail behavioral preference for flowering stems does not impact Spartina alterniflora reproduction. Marine Ecology Progress Series
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, including folks in the new Marine Technical Ops Group (read about the program above) - Jon Schneiderman (Manager), Robbie Shakespeare (1st Boat Captain), and Bobby Francis (2nd Boat Captain).  Then, we bid farewell to Rosanne Weglinski (Former Boat Captain) and Kelly Kingon (see spotlight on Kelly)
The Second Whatever Floats Your Boat Regatta: Another Resounding Success
It was a spectacle of creativity and ingenuity, thanks to the
  boats, the crew, and the Master of Ceremonies. A treat for all onlookers from the race itself to the amazing food from Posey's. For those not in the know, the WFYB Regatta is a community event that you make so successful by building your boats out of recycled materials and daring to race them from start to finish.  Whether your boat sinks or sails, everyone is assured a good laugh and in the process gains some awareness of the importance of recyling. This year, new participants joined veterans, bringing eleven boats to the race from as far away as the University of North Florida in Jacksonville (Go OSPREYS!).  
Michelle Gardner, Master of Ceremonies, had a grand time describing the antics going on at sea while judges Jim Muller, Mike Marshall, and Rhonda Work made the tough calls on who would take home the "gold". The Boy Scouts from Troop 8 in Wakulla County onboard the Drumroll Please (pictured below) successfully defended their 2012 title as Fastest Boat in the Regatta, hard won by competition from the RV Reporpoise (Most Creative Use of Materials), the 
Vicarious Viking Villain
People's Choice), and the 
SS ArtiFISHal (UNF, the Titanic Award for the most Spectacular Failure). For more pictures, visit the site on FACEBOOK.

Become a Friend of the Lab!


With the support of our new marine operations group, the research conducted by faculty, grad students, and undergraduates continues to expand in novel areas on critically important topics, from the shoreline to the deep sea. What does this mean to you? It means that there are even more ways that you can contribute to FSUCML's success, whether you want to contribute funds or your time. Private support of any kind provides us with tremendous flexibility to respond rapidly to exciting new opportunities and to plan for long-term development. So please consider joining a group of dedicated people who support our mission.


How can you help?  Make a private tax-deductible donation by going to the FSU Foundation's secure website here and choose the MARINE LAB FUND.   By donating $35 or more, you can receive a free t-shirt (we'll need your size) or an FSUCML mug.  If you have any questions, please contact FSUCML at 850-697-4095 or [email protected] 

2013 Friends of the FSUCML
In This Issue
Director's Report
Marine Operations
Noisy Fishes
Grad Student Research
Undergraduate Research
Hellos and Farewells
Whatever Floats

Dir: Dr. F Coleman
Assc Dir: M Balthrop
Assc Dir. Res. Dr. D. Grubbs
Bus Mgr: M Marxsen
Program Support: D Gilbert
Dir. Asst: L Edwards

M. Daniels
L. Messer
D. Overlin
D. Tinsley  

J Schneiderman (Manager)
Capt. R. Shakespeare
Capt. B.  Francis
B. Henderson 
N. Martin

Dr. Sandra Brooke
Dr. Felicia Coleman 
Dr. Chip Cotton
Dr. Stephen Gosnell 
Dr. Dean Grubbs
Dr. Christopher Koenig
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Points of Interest on the FSUCML Website
Featured Article

Dr. Chip Cotton writes about sound production in marine organisms 

The Florida State University Coastal & Marine Laboratory
3618 Coastal Highway 98, St. Teresa, FL  32358
phone:  850 697 4120 or email [email protected]