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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Marine Biodiversity & Conservation

April 15, 2015

Undergraduate Research Week Continues on Shore

Anne Broache,

SEA Semester

Above: Team Eels (Olivia Robson, Katarina Rolf, Mareike Duffing Romero, and Sarah Stratton) shows their classmates how they plan to investigate environmental impacts on the lifecycle of eels in the Sargasso Sea. Below: Team Mobile Fauna ( Callie Schultz, Grayson Huston, Anthony Daley and Margaret Keefe) plans to investigate the hundreds of animal species that depend on but are not permanently attached to Sargassum, the brown seaweed prevalent in the Sargasso Sea.

Continuing our celebration of Undergraduate Research Week, we’re featuring the inspiring investigations planned by our current class, C-259, Marine Biodiversity & Conservation. In just a few days, they'll leave Woods Hole and set sail on the SSV Corwith Cramer from San Juan, Puerto Rico to New York City via Bermuda.

Along the way, they’ll undertake a variety of scientific studies on the Sargasso Sea, that vast portion of the North Atlantic Ocean that is a major focus of conservation efforts. Here’s a look at two more projects that student teams plan to pursue at sea: 

Team Mobile Fauna

Title: Abundance and Distribution of Sargassum-associated Mobile Fauna
Researchers: Anthony Daley, University of New Hampshire ’16 (Marine, estuarine and freshwater biology); Grayson Huston, University of California – Berkeley ’14 (Marine Science); Margaret Keefe, Mount Holyoke College ’16 (Environmental Studies); Callie Schultz, Mount Holyoke College ’16 (Biology)

Mobile fauna are the hundreds of animal species that depend on but are not permanently attached to Sargassum, the brown seaweed prevalent in the Sargasso Sea. By better understanding how different populations of mobile fauna are distributed throughout the Sargasso Sea, policymakers and scientists will be able to recommend conservation strategies in a more informed way. This group plans to collect samples throughout their cruise track to identify and count all mobile organisms and determine how their diversity changes with age, size, and species of Sargassum.

Team Eels

Title: Eels Across the Ocean, Eels across the sea: a look into the life history traits and biodiversity of eel letocephali in the Sargasso Sea
Researchers: Mareike Duffing Romero, Humboldt State University ’14 (Marine Biology); Olivia Robson, University of Connecticut ’16 (Marine Science); Katarina Rolf, Carleton College ’15 (Biology); Sarah Stratton, Oberlin College ’16 (Environmental Studies/Biology)

Eels are an important ecosystem, economic and cultural resource in the Sargasso Sea, but their stocks are declining for reasons that are not well understood. By measuring temperature, salinity, current, and phosphorous level changes throughout their cruise track, this group plans to investigate how those environmental factors affect larval eel biodiversity in the Sargasso Sea. They’ll perform genetic analysis on daily samples collected from the ship and seek conclusions about richness of species variation from place to place.

Stay tuned...

We'll feature the final two projects on tomorrow's blog. 

Previous entry: A Beautiful Day on the Water    Next entry: A Day of Culinary Trials




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