Sunday, 5 June 2016

Week 4: FGCU Vester Marine Research Station (Larry J. Eichel)

Good Evening Everyone,
This past week has been a blast and it was spent doing a plethora of field activities, data processing and extrapolation, and classroom instruction.

A photo of the FGCU Vester Marine Station Facilities.

Day 1, we learned about the history of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve (i.e., EBAP), the history of aquatic preserves and their associated establishment in the State of Florida, a brief overview of the local flora and fauna (i.e., especially the importance of mangroves, seagrasses, and oyster reefs), and about the research, protection, and restoration of the EBAP. Then we went to a local mangrove island that was previously restored with live oysters and substrate (e.g., bags of shells, rocks, etc.) and collected the bags in which the oysters did not successfully inhabit.
Day 2, we learned about geological succession and barrier island formation. Then we went out to Horseshoe Key and took a 2 1/2 m sediment core and visited a Calusa shell mound. Upon return, we promptly cut open the sediment core collected at Horseshoe Key as well as a sediment core taken from the Calusa shell mound by the previous weeks group and examined the different layers determine when the ocean was transgressing and regressing.
Day 3, we learned about the importance of phytoplankton and zooplankton, the differences between the ocean and bay/riverside conditions and their effects on species richness and abundance, and collected samples along a predestinated transect. We then examined the specimens collected and performed some statistical analyses to determine how variables like salinity, temperature, and tidal influence effected the species present.
Day 4, we learned about the seven species of seagrasses native to Florida, although we only observed four, the importance of seagrasses to an estuarine habitat, the fauna which inhabit them at some point during their lives, current monitoring projects. We then visited three different sites along the bay and performed quadrat sampling to determine species richness and abundance of both seagrasses and algae. Then we plotted the data to determine the average depth that seagrasses are found and were able to physically observe areas which show seagrass coverage via remote mapping and determine if there was actual seagrass there.

A photo of a barrier island on the North side of the Estero BayAquatic Preserve Inlet.

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