Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Didemnum really is a tough guy!

I recently published an article on the invasive species Didemnum vexillum. In the article published in the journal Marine Biology I and colleagues characterize the material properties of the invasive sea squirt. D. vexillum is a particularly troublesome invasive species because it has colonized broad areas of Essential Fish Habitat on Georges Bank, and can directly impact sea scallops that use that habitat.  Understanding the material properties of D. vexillum can help understand why it has so successfully colonized habitats where other sea squirts are excluded and its potential to disperse to new habitats by fragmentation (breaking in to smaller pieces and floating with the water currents ). Compared to other colonial sea squirts D. vexillum is extremely tough, meaning that it is hard to break apart. It’s tough tunic may enable D. vexillum to cement together pebble-cobble substrates, and prevent the sediments from shifting around. The stabilization of substrate may allow further colonization of these habitats and act as a positive feedback! The changes in the infauna (e.g. worms and amphipods) associated with sediment stabilization have some classifying D. vexillum as an ecosystem engineer.  Additionally, organism (e.g., sea scallops) that typically settle on those pebble-cobble substrate will have less space to settle. Ultimately understanding these life history characteristics may help to develop management practices for controlling D. vexillum.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I have written a short article for the Connecticut Sea Grant publication "Wracklines" on the discovery of Clavelina lepadiformis in Long Island Sound. Check it out HERE. A more stable download can be found at the UCONN digital commons HERE.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finished with Knauss Fellowship 2011

 This post is a little bit delayed... I finished with my Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship in February. During 2011 I served as a Knauss Fellow in National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) Office of Habitat Conservation (OHC). The OHC is in the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). If nothing else I have learned a whole bunch of acronyms (a standing joke for those in government).

The year was exactly how the Knauss Fellowship was billed, I was exposed to a broad range of policy issues, worked with many different groups of people and offices, built personal connections with other fellows and broaden my understanding an appreciation for applied aspects of ecology. My experience served a good balance between exposure to policy and the opportunity to inject my knowledge of marine sciences into our groups work. One of the real treats of working with NOAA is that I truly felt that my hard work (and that of my co-workers) was making a real difference in our field. Too often as a doctoral student I wondered "who really cares about sea squirts?"

Of course there are many things that I missed from my doctoral experience at the University of Connecticut, I will start with the view. The view of Fishers Island Sound from Avery Point on a late September morning is second to none, now my view consists of gray cubicle divider with the odd flowchart pinned up (usually slightly skewed). I fell lucky when I walk past a window more then three times in a day, only glancing at a sweaty Silver Spring skyline. I use to brag to my friends that I used to spend my mornings in the summer diving with my afternoons writing from the desk, now facebook updates of summer research from my doctoral buddies make me jealous. 

I am truly appreciative of the opportunities that were presented to me during my Fellowship, and while the experience is unique for every fellow it is hardly unique to find it enlightening and rewarding.