Stillwater Cove is one of the best studied kelp beds in the world. Moss Landing Marine Lab’s very own Mike Fox is studying giant kelp growth in Stillwater. The R/V John Martin took a group out to tag giant kelp in order to more easily locate them when they go reproductive. Large blades called sporophylls cover the holdfast and make it difficult to see the tags, so we attached white lines to a nearby winged kelp algae.
Archive for the ‘Research: Live from the Labs’ Category
Congratulations to Phycology Lab student Paul Tompkins, who will be defending his thesis this Tursday, May 19th, at noon. Paul’s thesis is entitled “Distribution, Growth, and Disturbance of Catalina Island Rhodoliths.” What’s a rhodolith, you ask? If you can’t come hear the scoop on Thursday, check out these photos belows, or browse around the Drop-In:
Unlike most seaweeds, rhodoliths are algae that have a hard skeleton made out of calcium carbonate. The structure of a rhodolith bed creates a habitat for many types of organisms, like a mini coral reef or kelp forest. Beds like the one shown below were the subject of Paul’s thesis.
While fishing over the rocky reefs of San Jose del Cabo in Baja California, Ichthyology lab student Clinton Moran caught himself a 45-pound Pacific dog snapper (Lutjanus novemfasciatus). Clinton studies the mechanics of how fish feed – being the studious researcher that he is, he decided to clean and reassemble the head bones of his catch to display the fish’s wicked chompers. It’s easy to see where the common name comes from with those teeth that look positively canine. Check out some more fish bone displays from Clinton and other Ichthyology students.
Can you envision what a dog snapper looks like based on its teeth? Click here to see if you were close!
French international student and shark lover Marie Cachera cuddles a leopard shark from the MLML collection. Marie conducted a diet study on the starry skate as part of her Master’s thesis while visiting MLML for five months in 2009. Despite our location in a podunk town, the caliber of research of Moss Landing Marine Labs has attracted scientists and students from all over the world. Read an interview with MLML’s current international student Edem Mahu from Ghana.
by Jasmine Ruvalcaba, Phycology Lab
edited by Brynn Hooton
We’ve all heard the giant kelp Macrocystis can grow up to one meter per day. So, how do phycologists, people who study seaweeds, measure growth of different species of algae? With most, you can use a ruler of some sort. For instance, Dr. Graham, advisor of the phycology lab, has a National Science Foundation grant going right now to look at effects of climate change on intertidal and subtidal species. One factor he looks as is algal growth. To do so, we punch holes in the vegetative blade with a regular, run of the mill one-hole puncher near the base of the seaweed, and then each month go back to the same plants, and punch a new hole. We measure from the base of the blade to new the punch, from the new punch to the old punch, and the old punch to the tip of the blade. Wow, sounds like a lot to do underwater, right? Practice makes perfect.
That method is great for species that are fleshy and can grow centimeters per day, but how do you measure growth with calcified species, that grow very slowly? That’s what Paul Tompkins and I, Jasmine Ruvalcaba, are doing as a part of our thesis research. Paul studies rhodoliths, which are calcified red algae that form “beds” over soft sediments all over the world. I am studying their relatives, the articulated species. In a nut-shell, we soak our plants in stains anywhere from 5 minutes to days, depending on what type of stain we’re using, and let the stain mark the alga’s outer cell walls. After the plant is stained, we then put it back in clean seawater and let it grow. Any new parts of the plant that have grown after we took the plant out of the stain should be visible, and we know how long it’s taken to make this new growth. So, here is what we see…..
Keep in touch to read about my future adventures with coralline algae!