UNE Marine Science students, faculty and staff well represented at Benthic Ecology Conference

Gwen Pelletier presents her research
Gwen Pelletier presents her research

April 01, 2016

A group of students, faculty and staff from the University of New England Marine Science Center and Department of Marine Sciences presented their work at the Benthic Ecology Conference March 16-19, 2016 in Portland, Maine. The Benthic Ecology meeting is one of the largest national conferences for marine sciences.

Markus Frederich, Ph.D., associate professor and assistant department chair in the Department of Marine Sciences, presented his research. His talk, "Differential stress tolerance in red and green morphs of the invasive European green crab, Carcinus maenas" gave an overview of several research projects on the invasive green crab. He presented a synthesis of the work done by UNE undergraduate students Casey Toombs and Gwen Pelletier and graduate students Anthony Himes and Kelly Pennoyer. This multi-year project investigates physiological mechanisms of stress tolerance in the invasive green crab that devastates the local soft shell clam fishery. Funding for the project comes from the National Sciences Foundation, the Maine Sea Grant, and the American Physiological Society.

Gwen Pelletier ’16 expanded on Frederich’s talk with a poster presentation titled, "Differential Stress Tolerance Through the Molt Cycle of the Juvenile Green Crab, Carcinus maenas." The poster described her research on the biology of the invasive green crab. Pelletier previously presented her work nationally at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, SICB, in January in Portland, Oregon and in 2015 at the Experimental Biology meeting in Boston. Her work is funded by external grants from the American Physiological Society and the Maine Space Grant Consortium, and by UNE’s SURE summer research program. Gwen will continue her research for another year in the new 4+1 Marine Sciences masters program.

Carrie Byron, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Marine Sciences, gave a talk titled, “An integrated ecological-economic modeling framework for the sustainable management of bivalve shellfish aquaculture.” She described an approach for sustainable resource management that incorporates both the ecological and social components of a system. Her study system of focus for demonstrating application of this framework was filter feeding bivalve shellfish aquaculture in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island and Cobscook Bay, Maine. This multi-year work is funded by an NSF SEES Fellowship and is described in a publication in the journal Aquaculture. This work continues with the leadership of Eric Chapman, postdoc in MSC.

Chapman, a postdoctoral fellow in the Marine Science Center, presented a poster titled: "Integrating intertidal wild shellfish fisheries with aquaculture: Social-ecological output capacity as an economic resource management tool," which provided a framework to inform intertidal natural resource use and management. This interdisciplinary project submitted as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Saltonstall-Kennedy grant involves another ecologist at UNE, Adam St. Gelais, and two economists at the University of Maine, Keith Evans and Xuan Chen. This work will ultimately be shared with state and municipal regulators to better manage Maine's valuable intertidal natural resources.

St. Gelais’ poster titled, “Rapid post-spawning resorption in three Caribbean Coral Species” highlighted his collaborative work with colleagues at the National Coral Reef Institute and Nova Southeastern University on Florida coral reefs and histological characterization of the process of re-allocation of unused reproductive structures. A portion of this work will be described in an in press publication in the journal Invertebrate Reproduction and Development.

Chris Powers, a Marine Sciences graduate student, presented a poster titled, “Post-Bleaching Fitness and Habitat Selection in Symbiodinium minutum,” which described building a habitat selection model for zooxanthellae, the endosymbiotic algae that lives within corals. By developing a model for the ideal habitat, predictions may be made for the optimal habitat to protect zooxanthellae from thermal stress. This work has been funded by the UNE graduate program and will contribute to coral reef restoration and conservation efforts.

Adrianus Both, a Ph.D. student, presented a poster titled “Describing the source and biochemical composition of detritus along the coast of Maine using stable isotopes and fatty acid biomarkers,” which highlighted the sampling plan to collect detritus in Saco Bay which will take place from April until October 2016 in conjunction with water quality samples that will be taken over the same time period by the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET). This work is funded by SEANET, a NSF EPSCoR grant jointly held by the University of New England and the University of Maine.

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