Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rocket Science vs. Marine Biology

This is a picture from my seagrass predator-exclusion experiment in the upper Banana River Lagoon. It's pretty low-tech research compared to what's going on in the background!


Anyway, I'm trying to figure out if large predatory fish, which are very abundant in Kennedy Space Center because nobody is allowed to fish there, affect the smaller animals and plants in the lagoon's shallow seagrass beds. I'm hoping that by fencing out the big fish from my experimental plots, the inside of the plots will undergo the same ecosystem changes that would occur from overfishing. Those "ecosystem changes" would be a ripple effect down the food chain- an increase in the abundance of small fish, a decrease in the abundance of algae-eating shrimp, and an increase in the slimy algae that is harmful to seagrass. That type of ripple-effect is called a "trophic cascade".

I should know in another month or so if it's happening.


Johnny Douglass said...

I'll put this photo in our Christmas letter with the caption, "James is in charge of this important government project".

Paul Richardson said...