NERTO Participants

LMRCSC Student Participation in the NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunity (NERTO)

Collaboration with NOAA scientists and coordination with the NOAA Science Centers are critical to maintain the relevance of LMRCSC research to NOAA needs, to strengthen partnerships with NOAA, and to introduce students to the structure and function of NOAA. In order to facilitate such collaboration, graduate students supported by the LMRCSC are required to have a NOAA scientist serve on their advisory committees. Additionally, LMRCSC graduate students are required to participate in the NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunity (NERTO) program, a 12 weeks internship at a NOAA lab/facility under the supervision of a NOAA mentor scientist.

From 2016-2020, twenty-nine (29) LMRCSC graduate students interned in 15 NOAA facilities as part of the NERTO program. Twelve (12) students did their NERTO in the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (2 in Milford Lab, CT; 3 in Woods Hole, MA; 5 in Cooperative Oxford Lab, MD; 2 in J.J. Howard Lab, Sandy Hook, NJ; 1 in Chesapeake Bay Office, MD). Six students were interns in the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (2 in Panama City, FL; 3 in Galveston, TX; 1 in Beaufort, NC and 1 in Lafayette, LA). Three LMRCSC students interned in the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (2 in Oregon; 1 in Washington), 3 in Alaska Fisheries Science Center (3 in Seattle, WA; 1 in Kodiak, AK), one in the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, CA, and one at NOAA Headquarters, Silver Spring, MD. Through these internships, the students have enhanced their skills and competencies in NOAA Fisheries related disciplines while contributing significantly to research conducted at NOAA Science Centers.

LMRCSC NERTO Participants (2016 – 2020)

Arona Bender, EPP Intern | Email: arona.bender@my.hamptonu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Hampton University, Biology and Environmental Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Carolina Lewallen, Marine and Environmental Science | Email: carolina.lewallen@hampton.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Douglas Krause NOAA/Southwest Fisheries Science Center/Antarctic Research Division
Email: douglas.krause@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Science and Technology Enterprise

NERTO Title: Initial analysis of the foraging tactics and social behavior of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) from
animal-borne HD video footage

Abstract

Understanding the role of marine predators in Antarctic ecosystems is fundamental to the ecosystem-based management of Antarctic fisheries. In the past, direct observations of Antarctic predator foraging have been difficult, partially due to the lack of adequate technology. However, the development of small, lightweight biologgers such as animal-borne video cameras now make it possible to study the foraging, social, and resting behaviors of marine predators. This study analyzed animal-borne HD video footage to investigate and examine the foraging tactics and social behavior of 2 female Antarctic fur seals in the Southern Ocean during the austral summer of 2018 – 19. Analysis of movie footage from both seals revealed a mean foraging diving depth range between 20 – 49 m. Further, krill capture rates were shown to be related to dive depth, and mean consumption rates of 23 krill per minute, and 12 krill per minute for seals 451 and 57, respectively. This study details the quantitative analysis of consumption rates in free-ranging Antarctic fur seals based on data collected by animal-borne HD video footage.

Brittany King, EPP Intern | Email: brittany.king@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University – Fisheries Science
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Kelly Biedenweg & Dr. Jessica Miller, Fisheries and Wildlife | Email: kelly.biedenweg@oregonstate.edu; jessica.miller@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Robby Fonner, NMFS, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, Washington
Email: robby.fonner@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Ecological, Institutional and Social Influences on Habitat Restoration Efforts in Pacific Northwest

Abstract

In the past 20 years, thousands of salmon habitat restoration projects have occurred in the Pacific Northwest, with a focus on the ecological goal of protecting and recovering threatened and endangered salmon species. However, studies in other regions of the United States have found that in addition to the ecological drivers of restoration projects, there are also social factors that potentially influence restoration. To better understand these dynamics, our project investigated the ecological and social influences on the distribution of salmon habitat restoration efforts in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. We aimed to answer the following research question: How does the regional distribution of completed salmon restoration projects correlate with biological, physical, and human community characteristics? Using salmon habitat restoration projects data obtained from the NOAA managed Pacific Northwest Salmon Habitat Project Database as dependent variables, this project explored whether salmon habitat restoration efforts in the Puget Sound tend to flow towards certain types of ecological and social communities, and the potential equity and environmental justice implications. Preliminary statistical count model results suggest that, depending on the project type, restoration effort was highest in lower elevations catchments with higher ESU counts, water quality impairment and high percentages of non-Hispanics white populations.


The Research for this NERTO internship was completed with the Human Dimension team at the NWFSC, which focuses on addressing social, economic, and cultural issues associated with resource management. The main objective of the internship’s research project was to investigate whether the regional distribution of completed salmon habitat restoration project sites in the Puget Sound correlate with biological, physical, and human community characteristics? Understanding whether salmon restoration efforts tends to flow towards certain types of communities, could inform future effort allocations in the Pacific Northwest and raise awareness about potential equity and environmental justice issues. Previous literature on environmental
justice highlights that environmental hazards may disproportionately affect communities with greater susceptibility to unequal environmental protection, however, social and environmental impact assessments are commonly conducted separately (Sanchez et al 2013). Our project was inspired by a similar research that explored correlations between ecological and social variables and restoration sites along the California coast (Stanford et al. 2018), which found that restoration effort was “highest in catchments with water quality impairment, high population density, high pro-environmental voting, and highly educated, wealthy, non-Hispanic white populations (Stanford et al. 2018). Using similar methods, we were interested in exploring whether or not similar ecological and social trends exist within the Pacific Northwest. To complete our research, we utilized NOAA NWFSC’s managed Pacific Northwest Salmon Habitat Project (PNSHP) database which contains data on over 26,000 restoration actions undertaken at over 42,000 locations At the Puget Sound level, PNSHP contains data on over
1500 restoration actions undertaken at over 2100 locations from 2000- 2015. The number of restoration project sites in each catchment unit (12-digit Hydrological Unit Code) within the Puget Sound region were used as dependent variables. Ecological and social variables were collected for each catchment unit to use as independent variables. We the fit statistical count
models to assess the correlations between dependent and independent variables.

Jaelyn Leslie, EPP Intern | Email: jaelyn.leslie@myhamptonu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Hampton University, Biology
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Carolina Lewallen, Marine and Environmental Science | Email: carolina.lewallen@hampton.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Douglas Krause NOAA/Southwest Fisheries Science Center/Antarctic Research Division
Email: douglas.krause@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Science and Technology Enterprise

NERTO Title: Assessing the mass and body condition of leopard and fur seals using aerial images

Abstract

Changes in the mass and body condition of pinnipeds can provide key information about the health and energetic demands of pinniped populations. We applied a previously developed model to measure the body size and mass of leopard seals at Cape Shirreff, Livingston Island, Antarctic Peninsula. We used an unoccupied aerial system (UAS) to capture single overhead
photographs of leopard seals to assess the changes of body condition and body mass over the course of 4 austral summers (2016-2019). Aerial photogrammetric techniques have proven to be increase accuracy of measurements, be less invasive, and more logistically efficient that historical manual measurement techniques. Leopard seal residency on Cape Shirreff during the
austral summer overlaps with fur seal pupping season. There is strong evidence that leopard seals play a role in the top-down control of fur seal populations, and we hope to gain a better understanding of the health and summer energetic needs.

Josette McLean, EPP Intern | Email: josette.mclean@myhamptonu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Hampton University – Biology concentration in Environmental Science
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Eric Lewallen, Biological Sciences |
Email: eric.lewallen@hamptonu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Laurie Weitkamp, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service/Northwest Fisheries Science Center/ Newport Research Station
Email: laurie.weitkamp@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Informing the marine ecology of Pacific lamprey

Abstract

The Pacific lamprey species are a group of anadromous, eel-like, vertebrates that are endemic to the North Pacific. They are an ecologically, culturally and economically important species in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Despite their intrinsic value, their populations have declined by approximately 90% in some regions. Currently there is a paucity of information pertaining to their ocean residence phase. Consequently, the goal of this study was to gain insight into the prey species of Pacific lamprey and to determine if lamprey prey are connected to their recent population declines. Lamprey were collected from the Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) fishery and the Pacific pink shrimp fishery (Pandalus jordani) vessels.
The 313 bp COI region of prey mtDNA were extracted according to the Qiagen DNeasy Blood & Tissue Kit protocol; and amplified using Polymer Chain Reactions (PCR). After external sequencing, samples were identified as Pacific lamprey. This highlighted the need for Pacific lamprey DNA blockers in order to identify prey DNA. Currently, I am in the process of creating a protocol to block lamprey DNA based on previous studies and will implement these techniques into my future research. I also wrote a review paper entitled, “eDNA Methodologies for Assessing Genetic Diversity among Marine Populations,” which will be submitted to the Current Molecular Biology Reports Journal.

Keala Pelekai, EPP Intern | Email: keala.pelekai@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Oregon State University, Fisheries Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Jessica Miller, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Sciences | Email: jessica.miller@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor:  Dr. David Huff, Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC); Dr. Joe Smith, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Estuarine and Ocean Ecology Program, Corvallis, Oregon |
Email: david.huff@noaa.gov; joe.m.smith@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title:Opportunity for EPP Cooperative Science Center Graduate Student: NOAA Acoustic Data Management and Sharing

Abstract

The goals of this internship were multifaceted and included to become familiar with NOAA acoustic data management, with emphasis on “best-practices” for data manipulation and sharing; lead upload of multi-year dataset on acoustic detections of fishes in the Northern California Current into online repositories; format and analyze existing acoustic data for Bull
Trout; and participate in field opportunities to assist with acoustic array deployment in Columbia River estuary or coastal ocean, if safe and allowable. As a result of complications with the remote NERTO format, some of the duties and responsibilities outlined did not come to fruition. The final upload of the Science Center’s acoustic data to the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) and Animal Telemetry Network (ATN) repositories did not occur due to complications with data access. Furthermore, all field-work opportunities were cancelled due to the pandemic and NOAA’s COVID-19 procedures. However, the LMRCSC intern learned about NOAA acoustic data management protocols and completed spatial analyses of the Bull Trout acoustic detection data. Visualization of the Bull Trout detections in the Hoh and Kalaloch Rivers showed all tagged fish migrated from the Kalaloch River and into the Pacific Ocean and to the Hoh River for reproduction. All individuals then returned to the Kalaloch River to overwinter. Further data are needed on this population to understand why these fish perform this migration.

Kristafer Howard, EPP Intern | Email: kristaferhoward@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University – Master of Marine Science
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown, Marine Science |
Email: dionne.hoskins-brown@noaa.gov
NOAA Internship Mentor: Roldan Muñoz- Southeast Fisheries Science Center-Beaufort Laboratory; Nathan Bacheler- Southeast Fisheries Science Center-Beaufort Laboratory |
Email: roldan.munoz@noaa.gov | nate.bacheler@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Abiotic and Biotic Factors Influencing the Community Composition of US Southeast Atlantic Fishes from 2015-2019

Abstract

It is the role of a fisheries manager to make informed management decisions using the best data available. To provide managers with this data the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) conducts the Southeast Fishery Independent Survey (SEFIS). This survey was created to collect data on reef fish from hard bottom habitats in the southeast US using a variety of different sampling methods. The present study focused on a five-year subset of presence/absence data collected via video recorded on baited chevron traps. The purpose of this study was to determine which biotic and abiotic factors determine the community composition of fishes in the southeast US Atlantic Ocean from 2015-2019. We utilized permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA). The major finding of the study was that depth, latitude, and relief appear to be the most influential at determining the community composition of fishes. We also examined the dataset and classified a species as tropical if the center of its geographic distribution fell equal to or less than 10 degrees (north or south) latitude. Those species whose center of geographic distribution was greater than 10 degrees latitude were classified as non-tropical. Over the time period of the study, we determined that the percent change in mean abundance of tropical species was significantly greater than non-tropical species overall (across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) in the southeast US Atlantic Ocean. The results of this study may prove useful for fisheries managers to help predict the possible expansion of tropical fishes and potential changes in fisheries management.

Leanne Cohn, EPP Intern | Email:cohnl@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University- Marine Resource Management
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Flaxen Conway, Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences | Email: flaxen.conway@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Blake Feist- Northwest Fisheries Science Center, WA |
Email: blake.feist@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Mapping the Footprint of Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) Closures on the US West Coast, 2021

Abstract

Rockfish (Sebastes spp.) are commercially and ecologically important across the US West Coast. Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, certain rockfish species have been overfished and exploited to the point of severe population decline. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been established across the US West Coast since 2002 in order to reduce fishing pressure on overexploited rockfish species, and to give their populations the opportunity to recover to sustainable levels. MPAs are not only utilized to rebuild and maintain rockfish populations; they are also used to rebuild and maintain a large breadth of marine natural resources. Rockfish conservation areas (RCAs) are a type of MPA specific to commercially important rockfish species across the US West Coast. RCAs are seasonal and depth specific closures to specific fishing methods such as bottom trawling. The main goal of RCA implementation is to reduce fishing pressure on species that were declared to be ‘overfished’ since
the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is crucial that researchers and managers understand how RCAs impact rockfish populations; one way to achieve this is to quantify and compare fishing activities and rockfish species distributions within RCAs and outside RCAs. Geographic Information Science (GIS) is invaluable to this process as geospatial data layers can be generated and used to overlay and analyze fishing activities with rockfish species distributions across the US West Coast. Such spatiotemporally
dynamic geospatial data layers do not exist yet, therefore, the purpose of this NERTO internship was to assist NOAA with converting 20 years of RCA time series data into usable geospatial data layers that could be used to understand how RCAs impact rockfish populations.

Nicholas Coleman, EPP Intern | Email: ncoleman@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Center for Environmental
Science (UMCES) Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL)
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. David Secor, Fisheries Science |
Email: secor@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Steven Lindley and Dr. Peter Dudley, Fisheries Ecology Division, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Santa Cruz, California |
Email: steve.lindley@noaa.gov and peter.dudley@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Sonar Censusing and habitat use by spawning run Green Sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris

Abstract

The southern distinct population segment (sDPS) of green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) that spawn in the Sacramento River is currently listed as “Threatened” under the Endanger Species Act (ESA). The greatest threats to this population are habitat impediments (dams), habitat degradation, and habitat loss which have occurred consistently since the 1950s due to water diversion efforts. Since the sDPS of green sturgeon was listed as “Threatened” in 2006, a substantial amount of research and conservation has been conducted to understand this population’s habitat use and monitor population abundance. The objective of this study was to identify annual fluctuations in spawning run size and how such fluctuations correlate with
environmental variables (i.e. temperature and flow). Additionally, this study attempted to delineate patterns in habitat use for spawning run individuals. Dual-frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON), a type of acoustic camera, was used to detect the presence of green sturgeon in the Sacramento River during mobile surveys conducted in May/June from 2010 to 2020. The
video collected from these surveys was used to count individual sturgeon at sampled units which were then used to calculate annual estimates of abundance for spawning run sturgeon in the Sacramento River. Annual estimates of abundance were used to investigate correlations with temperature and flow, identify annual fluctuations in spawning run size, and assess patterns in
habitat use. The results from this study found that April flow was the environmental variable with the strongest correlation to annual spawning run size. Four “hot spots” that consistently supported above average abundances of green sturgeon were also identified.

Victoria Moreno, EPP Intern | Email: willvict@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Oregon State University, Master of Public Policy
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Ana Spalding, Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts, School of Public Policy, Assistant Professor of Marine and Coastal Policy | Email: ana.spalding@oregonstate.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor:  Dr. Shallin Busch Conservation Biology Division Deputy Director, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle WA | Email: shallin.busch@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Collaboratively Combating Ocean Acidification: Assessing the economic vulnerability of US communities to Ocean Acidification

Abstract

The rise of atmospheric CO2 concentrations due to anthropogenic activities has had a broad range of effects on earth systems, including ocean acidification (OA). OA is a threat to marine species and ecosystems and the human systems that rely on them. Throughout the United States, industries and communities that depend on the cultivation of shellfish and wild-capture species as major resources are expected to experience impacts of OA as production levels are disrupted by changing ocean chemistry. For action to be taken at the Federal, state, and local levels through policy and management regarding OA mitigation and adaption, a uniform framework must be established to help communities and industries and the governmental systems associated with them respond effectively to future change. This research project aimed to create and assess a framework for the Federal, state, local agencies to implement effective policies and initiatives related to OA in the US. Through an in-depth interdisciplinary literature review on vulnerability, a framework was developed to assess vulnerability at a national scale in an interdisciplinary fashion. Throughout the project, there was also the engagement of communicating scientific efforts surrounding OA vulnerability and initiatives to the public, explicitly interacting with Federal and public lines of communication and information transfer.

Adrianne Wilson, EPP Intern | Email: adrianne.wilson@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS, Ph.D., Marine Biology and Ecology
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Emailebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Robert Allman, NMFS, SEFSC, Panama City, FL | Emailrobert.allman@noaa.gov 
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Age and Growth of Lane Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico

Abstract

The sagittal otoliths for 499 Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris) were collected, processed and aged. Samples were collected from the Gulf of Mexico, ranging from the southwest tip of Florida to the eastern portion of Texas from January 2015 to October 2017. Otoliths were sectioned, mounted to a microscope slide and aged using a compound microscope. One reader counted annuli and sub-samples were read by a second reader to ensure consistent and accurate ageing. Fork length measurements ranged from 202mm to 495mm. The oldest fish aged was 13 years. There was a significant difference in the growth parameter estimates between males and females so they were analyzed separately. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters were for males: growth coefficient, K = 0.462, asymptotic length, L00 =378.17, and t0 = -0.868; and for females: growth coefficient, K =0.271, asymptotic length, L00 =383.42, and t0 = -2.08). 

Amanda Lawrence, EPP Intern | Email: alawrence@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  IMET – UMCES; M.S., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. J. Sook Chung, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: chung@umces.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor:  Dr. Paul McElhany, NWFSC, Mukilteo Field Station, Ocean Acidification | Email: paul.mcelhany@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Developing methods to detect the effect of CO2 on the physiology of Dungeness crab

Abstract

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased from approximately 280 parts per million (ppm) to 387 ppm since the start of the industrial revolution (Feely and Doney et al., 2009). Current COconcentrations exceed that of levels that have not been observed in over 800,000 years (Luthi et al., 2008). This increased abundance in atmospheric COhas resulted in the oceans absorbing approximately one-quarter of anthropogenic CO2 (Sabine and Feely, 2007). This shift in oceanic conditions drives chemical changes that have the potential to leave ecosystems and a range of species at risk. Effects of projected seawater CO2 levels have been shown to alter olfactory-mediated behaviors in the economically and environmentally important Coho salmon (Williams et al., 2019). Gill breathers regulate internal pH through the process of ion transport, which is a process directly influenced by the changing water chemistry. More specifically, nearshore benthic ecosystems and calcareous species are predicted to experience some of the more severe impacts regarding a lowering pH (Wootton et al., 2008). Here we will utilize respiration rate to determine the energetic cost of maintaining internal pH in future oceanic conditions, specifically throughout the development of the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister.

Amanda Pappas, EPP Intern | Email: akpappas09@students.desu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Delaware State University, M.S. Natural Resources
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: gozbay@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Gary Wikfors, Northeast  Fisheries Science Center Milford, CT | Email: gary.wikfors@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies 

NERTO Title: Change in Photosynthetic Efficiency and Chlorophyll Fluorescence over Time in Prey Starved Dinophysis acuminata

Abstract

Dinophysis acuminata is an obligate mixotrophic dinoflagellate that is found in coastal marine water of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, brackish water tributaries, and bays.  Dinophysis acuminata is known in many cases to produce toxins of okadaic acid, Dinophysis toxins, and pectenotoxins.  These toxins are associated with Diarrhetic Shellfish poisoning in humans. Dinophysis acuminata is emerging as a potential threat to the developing oyster aquaculture industry in the Delaware Inland Bays.  There are sites within the Delaware Inland Bays that D. acuminata has been present in high concentrations, but how close spring blooms of D. acuminata come to shellfish aquaculture sites is not known.  Little is known of the bloom dynamics of this harmful algae bloom species within the Delaware Inland Bays. The results of this study will aid in determining how long chloroplasts acquired by D. acuminata through kleptoplasty remain functional under prey starved conditions.  Nutrients, light, and prey availability are drivers of spring blooms.  Understanding how long chloroplasts remain capable of photosynthesis in D. acuminata can inform questions on bloom dynamics and overwintering strategies. Culture of Dinophysis acuminata was fed prey, Mesodinium rubrum and then starved.  Results from a Fluorescence Induction and Relaxation System show a decline in the variable fluorescence (Fv/Fm) over time, indicating that the maximum quantum yield of photochemical quenching in PSII is decreasing with time. Results at 25 days indicate a decrease from Fv/Fm of 0.56 to 0.48.  Results of a linear regression analysis of the data show little variability between mean data points and relation between Fv/Fm and time.  Sampling and data analysis are still being performed.

Ammar Hanif, EPP Intern | Email: hanif.ammar@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  IMET – UMCES; Ph.D., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Rosemary Jagus , Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: jagus@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Ed Johnson, NOAA Headquarters, Silver Spring, MD. | Email: ed.johnson@noaa.govDr. Felipe Arzayus,  NCCOS, Stressor Detection and Impacts Division, Monitoring & Assessment Branch, Silver Spring, MD, | Email: felipe.arzayus@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Temporal Study of Diet and Microbiome of Mussels Collected from Lake Michigan

Abstract

Two species of invasive dreissenid mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) have successfully established across Europe and North America and have drastically changed resident ecosystems and food webs. Most studies involving these mussels in the Laurentian Great Lakes have focused on organism physiology, distribution, ecological effects, and genetics. This study aims to characterize the microbiome of dreissenid mussel gills, for which limited information is available. The microbiota of mussels is associated with their aquatic habitat and varies with factors such as salinity, bacterial load in the water, temperature and diet, and are likely to respond to environmental change. Limited data is available regarding the dreissenid mussel microbiome. The recent development of high-throughput sequencing and metabarcoding has given deeper insights into microbial communities. Preliminary monitoring efforts by the Mussel Watch Program suggest that the dreissenid mussel metabolome may change seasonally. This led to the initiation of a temporal study to address how environmental change affects the mussel gill microbiome and mussel metabolomics. We sampled the microbial community found within the gill tissue of D. r. bugensis collected biweekly or monthly from a single site in Lake Michigan between May and November. The microbial community will be assessed using high-throughput sequencing and metabarcoding. These data will be used to determine whether the mussel gill microbiome can be used as a biological indicator of water quality. This study is a collaboration between NOAA’s Mussel Watch program (Great Lakes region) and NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory that will augment ongoing studies of mussel physiology and benthic ecology.

Andre Price, EPP Intern | Email: alprice370@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Marine, M.S., Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Richard McBride, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: richard.mcbride@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Prey Identification and Quantification of Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) Stomachs

Abstract

Food habits of black sea bass (BSB, Centropristis striata) have been studied from trawl surveys in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, but no studies have compared food choices between specific habitats or locations. We sampled BSB at selected natural and artificial reefs near Ocean City, MD using hook-and-line angling to determine how habitat preferences influenced length frequencies, sex ratio, or dietary preferences.  Stomach content analysis was used to determine whether diets varied significantly between sampling locations. Preliminary results from 2016 indicate that crustaceans dominate diets of BSB by frequency of occurrence. This data will help to understand how BSB utilize different habitat types, and the contribution of reef habitats to BSB populations in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.

Angie Munguia, EPP Intern | Email: angelica.munguia@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Oregon State University; M.S., Fisheries & Wildlife – Fisheries Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Jessica Miller, Fisheries & Wildlife  | Email: jessica.miller@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Laurie Weitkamp, NOAA Point Adams NWMFS Lab. | Email: laurie.weitkamp@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

NERTO Title: Juvenile salmon long term-habitat monitoring and field collections for action effective monitoring research (AEMR) in the Lower Columbia River and Estuary

Benjamin Frey, EPP Intern | Email: bfrey@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: CBL – UMCES; M.S., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisors: Dr. Rosemary Jagus, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: jagus@umces.edu
Dr. Dave Secor, Chesapeake Bay Laboratory | Email: secor@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Anne Richards, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: anne.richards@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Validation of age and growth estimates of New England and Mid-Atlantic demersal fishes using microstructural analysis of hardparts

Abstract

Monkfish (Lophius americanus) supports high value fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England. Conservative fishing quotas were imposed owing to refutation of traditional ageing methods that resulted in uncertainties in stock status. Without accurate age interpretation or validation, serious errors in the assessment and management of fish stocks can occur. This internship at the NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) examined the current assessment processes including fishery-independent methods, biological sampling, age determination methods for monkfish and other species (black sea bass, haddock, yellowtail flounder, red hake and silver hake) and age-dependent stock assessment models. I participated in a 2-week leg of the Northeast Fall Bottom Trawl Survey. I trained with the NEFSC Age & Growth group reviewing ageing methods for these species. I met with the assessment leads for each species, reviewing how age-dependent assessments are used in establishing biological reference points and evaluating stock status. My thesis research will continue to involve my NEFSC mentors as I develop novel approaches to age monkfish using trace element micro-constituent analysis of hardparts. 

Brian Galvez, EPP Intern | Email: briangalvez427@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Delaware State University, M.S. Natural Resources 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Stacy Smith, Natural Resources | Email: slsmith@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD. | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Determining diet of Delaware Bay weakfish using stomach content and stable isotope analysis 

Abstract

The weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) is a valuable commercial and recreational fish species that primarily occurs from North Carolina to New York. The fishery is depleted and has not rebounded due to unknown causes of elevated rates of natural mortality. We applied stable isotope and stomach content analyses to examine the diet of weakfish throughout the Delaware Bay from late spring to early fall in 2017 (May through October). Using these methods, our goal was to answer questions regarding the trophic ecology of weakfish including prey availability, prey preference, and prey origin. The bay was separated into three parts along the salinity gradient and weakfish were separated into three size classes representing ontogenetic shifts in diet (small- 0-60, medium- 60-100, large- 100-137 mm SL). We found that mysid shrimp, amphipods, and unidentified fish dominated the diet of weakfish throughout the summer and early fall. Examining stomach content by season, the percent frequency (%F) of mysid shrimp decreased significantly in the middle bay from late spring to summer (from 90 %F to ~60 %F) with a concurrent increase in amphipod consumption in the same period on the Delaware side of the bay (from ~15 %F to 90 %F). The opposite relationship between amphipod and mysid shrimp consumption was recorded from summer to fall. Stable isotope data was analyzed using generalized linear models (GLMs) and generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) for each isotope by each size class weakfish with the variables of bay location, season, and state. The goal of the GLM and GLMM results was to inform the setup of future stable isotope mixing models in terms of spatiotemporal scales. 

Cara Schweitzer, EPP Intern | Email: cara.schweitzer42@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Ph.D., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Michael L. Burton, NOAA Fisheries, Beaufort Lab, NC | Email: michael.burton@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Evaluation of Southeast Reef Fish Survey (SERFS) videos for Atlantic Sharks 

Cristin Mayes, EPP Intern | Email: cristin.mayes@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Hampton University; M.S., Applied Mathematics
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Eric Lewallen, Biological Sciences | Email: eric.lewallen@hamptonu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Michael Fogarty, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: michael.fogarty@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Ecosystem Based Approaches to Modeling Fish Species Distributions in the Chesapeake Bay

Detbra Rosales, EPP Intern | Email: drosales@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Ph.D.,  Marine, Estuarine Environmental Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Pitula, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: jspitula@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. John Jacobs, NOAA/NCCOS/Oxford Lab. | Email: john.jacobs@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Seafood Safety

NERTO Title: The Influence of okadaic acid on gene expression and bacterial susceptibility 

Abstract

Diuretic shellfish poisoning (DSP) is a worldwide problem for bivalve aquaculture. Due to the presence of DSP toxins in oysters at concentrations that exceed set regulatory limits, there have been many closures to shellfish harvesting. This can lead to significant economic loses in both commercial and recreational shellfish industries. The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, can accumulate diuretic shellfish toxins (DST) when exposed to marine dinoflagellates that produce DSTs. Dinophysis and Prorocentrum are two dinoflagellate genera commonly found in Mid-Atlantic waters that are known to produce DSTs.  Studies have shown that dinoflagellate toxins producers, such as Alexandrium catenella can increase oysters’ susceptibility to bacterial infections. However studies on how okadaic acid affects oysters susceptibility is scarce.  Our goal is to provide insight on the stress response of C. virginica after laboratory exposure to OA and the bacterial pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus, through the analysis of the expression of HSP70 (Heat shock protein 70) and CP450 (Cytochrome p450) stress genes.

Emily Griffin, EPP Intern
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University, M.S., Marine Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Tara Cox, Department of Marine Science | Email: coxt@savannahstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Patricia Rosel, NOAA Lafayette, Louisiana. | Email: patricia.rosel@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Evaluation of the Southern Border of the Northern Georgia/Southern South Carolina Estuarine System stock of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) through Genetic Analyses

Abstract

The goal of this research is to learn the proper techniques to identify the correct stock boundaries of bottlenose dolphins. Identifying proper stock boundaries is essential for the proper management of protected species such as the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). This project is looking at potential genetic differences in bottlenose dolphin stocks off the coast of Northern Georgia. Biopsy samples were collected from dolphins in this region and will be taken to the Lafayette laboratory for further genetic analyses. The NGSSCES stock meets the Central Georgia Estuarine Stock at northern Ossabaw Sound just south of Savannah, Ga. However, recent research suggests this boundary needs to be re-evaluated. The information obtained while working in this lab will inform us if the southern border of the NGGSCES stock is accurate. Through the genetic work we will also have the opportunity to determine the sex of these animals as is very difficult to do in the field.

Enid C. Muñoz Ruiz, EPP Intern | Email: ecmunoz@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; M.S., Aquatic Toxicology
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Ali Ishaque, Department of Natural Science | Email: abishaque@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Ashok Deshpande, 732-872-3043, NEFSC, Sandy Hook, NJ. | Email: ashok.deshpande@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

NERTO Title: Method development of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) QUECHERS extraction in Scallops

Abstract

Plastic fragments, pellets, fibers and cosmetic beads less than 5 mm in size are termed as microplastics. These are emerging contaminants that in recent years have been found in tap water samples all over the world and a in a vast array of aquatic organisms with the possibility of toxic effects in them. Multiple studies have implied that, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), persistent bioaccumulative fire-retardant pollutants, in fish tissues display positive correlations with geographic plastic debris densities. Examination of this linear relationship with respect to the benthic environment using sea scallops as model organism is the research main focus. Scallop and bottom water column samples were collected from multiple regions across Georges Bank and Mid-Atlantic Bight. The optimum extraction method to yield the optimum quantification of hydrophobic bioaccumulative compounds in the Atlantic Sea Scallop, Placopecten magellanicus, using modern solid phase extraction “quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe” (QUECHERS) has been obtained. Sea scallops are important commercial organisms with fisheries dredging over 50 million pounds annually for seafood consumption; our research directly contributes to NOAA’s goal to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources by providing the scientific foundation for understanding many future studies of the dangers microplastics can have on important ecological commercial species.

Halie O’Farrell, EPP Intern | Email: hofarrell@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS; Ph.D., Marine Biology and Fisheries 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Enric Cortes, NOAA NMFS Panama City Field Laboratory, Panama City, Florida | Email: enric.cortes@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Comparing shark harvest control rules to potential biological removals when determining total allowable catches

Abstract

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires fisheries management councils to avoid overfishing by setting total allowable catch (TAC) limits. Currently, shark species’ TACs are set by estimating the relative abundance and projecting forward 20 years under various catch levels while accounting for uncertainty. The TAC is the catch level at which there is a 70% probability that the stock is not overfished in the projection period. While the use of projections is an established method used for many fish species, it is very complicated requiring a lot of information for several parameters and high computing time. In a climate where more stock assessments and management decisions are being requested in less time with fewer resources, a simpler, more efficient method for determining TACs is needed. Management of protected marine mammals utilized the potential biological removals (PBR) approach to set limits. Calculation of a PBR requires little information and they can be computed quickly. Because sharks have a similar life history to marine mammals we explore the possibility of using the PBR method as a more efficient method of establishing TACs. For the purposes of this exploratory work, shark species were limited to those assessed and managed in the south east United States and by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). TAC values were extracted from the latest stock assessments for each species, in addition to the information required to calculate a PBR. TAC and PBR values are compared to determine the validity of using the PBR method. This method has showed promise, but is not yet adequately supported as a viable solution.

Jorge J. Rodriguez, EPP Intern | Email: jjrodriguez@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. A. K. Nyame, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: aknyame@gmail.com
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Gary Wikfors | Email: gary.wikfors@noaa.gov & Dr. April Croxton | Email: april.croxton@noaa.gov; NOAA Lab, Milford, CT
Project Category:  Cytology/Molecular Biology

NERTO Title: Use of density step gradient centrifugation and differential lectin binding to characterize Mytilus edulis hemocyte subpopulations by flow cytometry

Abstract

Mytilus edulis, commonly known as the blue mussel, relies on circulating hemocytes to eliminate invading pathogens. However, there is a lack of knowledge about other functions hemocytes may carry, as well as their life-cycle and ontogeny. Currently, hemocyte subpopulations are classified by morphological differences observed through light microscopy. Here we report the elucidation of two hemocyte subpopulations based on density step-gradient centrifugation combined with the differential binding of Fluorescein (FITC)-conjugated Aleuria aurantia lectin (AAL) and FITC-conjugated wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) to cell surface glycoproteins.  Earlier lectin blot studies demonstrated that soluble hemocyte extracts from M. edulis hemocytes express glycoconjugates with terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine carbohydrate moieties. Flow cytometry analysis of FITC-conjugated AAL and FITC-conjugated WGA stained hemocytes demonstrate the presence of terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine carbohydrate moieties on M. edulis cell surface glycoconjugates. Additional studies reveal that the majority of these terminal carbohydrates are found on protein backbones that are susceptible to cleavage with trypsin, a protease known to cleave the carboxyl side of peptides containing lysine or arginine. The expression of these terminal carbohydrate moieties is not evenly distributed among hemocytes. Here we report that approximately 30% of hemocytes express glycoproteins with terminal N-acetylglucosamine, while 70% of hemocytes express glycoproteins with terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine. The expression of terminal fucose and N- acetylglucosamine increases as hemocytes increase in size and level of granularity. Interestingly, smaller agranular hemocytes do not express terminal fucose. These results show the presence of two distinct M. edulis hemocyte subpopulations based on the differential expression of cell surface glycoproteins with terminal N-acetylglucosamine only, or terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine.

Kasondra Rubalcava, EPP Intern | Email: kdrubalcava@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Paulinus Chigbu, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: pchigbu@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA/NMFS/ST/Ecosystems, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

NERTO Title: Development of a Maryland Coastal Bays Ecosystem Model to Assess the Influence of Climatic Factors on Biomass Distributions of Fish and Macroinvertebrates, Food Web Linkages and Community Structure

Abstract

The Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs) are a system of shallow lagoons on the US East Coast connected to the Atlantic Ocean by two inlets. They are one of the most ecologically diverse estuaries on the east coast and serve as a nursery for many commercially important species such as black sea bass, summer flounder and blue crabs. Due to their significant use by the public, MCBs are vulnerable to environmental and human pressures. Understanding how environmental parameters affect the ecosystem can help in managing a changing ecosystem. We created a fisheries ecosystem model consisting of 22 functional groups and species from the MCBs using Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) software to explore influence of environmental factors on biomass distributions of key fish species including summer flounder, black sea bass, bay anchovy, weakfish, and blue crab. The biomass input data used for Ecopath was estimated from abundance index data through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDDNR) Coastal Bays Fisheries Investigation Trawl and Beach Seine Survey. Time series data imported from 1990-2017 through the MDDNR survey was used to fit the model. Climate change scenarios were run using changes in temperature and salinity to analyze the effects they have on key species in the MCBs. The results of this study will aid in management of the MCBs as it is a nursery habitat for commercially important species.

LaTreese S. Denson, EPP Intern | Email: ldenson@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami – RSMAS, PhD., Marine Biology and Ecology
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. James Thorson, NMFS, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, HEPR, Seattle, Washington | Email: james.thorson@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Environmental influences on indices of abundance for King Mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico examined through spatiotemporal geostatistical models

Abstract

During the NERTO experience from September to December 2018, I developed skills in random effects modeling to understand spatial processes in fish population dynamics, here-in referred to as geostatistical modeling. These models were tested using larval count data from the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) Fall Plankton Survey. Originally, a non-geostatistical model was fit to the data to derive an index of abundance for spawning stock biomass; however, the original index did not explicitly account for the uncertainty in spatial variation on population density or catchability. Failing to account for this source of uncertainty in a model, underestimates the overall uncertainty of an index of abundance. During the NERTO I began to explore the effect of spatial and spatiotemporal variability using a geostatistical model on King mackerel ichthyoplankton abundance indices and density distribution. I began with the use of delta-log normal models for zero inflated data. As expected, considering spatial variability creates a better model according to the Akaike Information Criterion. Additionally, adding spatial and temporal variability to the original model only slightly increases the standard deviation (uncertainty) of the index of abundance. Future research will include using Poisson-link models to better describe the error structure and variability in the data. I will also further investigate the individual contribution of the original covariates when considering spatial structure as well as environmental covariates such as temperature and chlorophyll.

Laura Almodóvar-Acevedo, EPP Intern | Email: lcalmodovaracevedo@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA/NMFS/ST/Ecosystems, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

Abstract

The objective of this study is to have empirical data about black sea bass respiration rates at different temperatures. This information will give us a better idea of black sea bass bioenergetics and will also be incorporated into a juvenile black sea bass habitat suitability model for the Chesapeake Bay.

Matthew Ramirez, EPP Intern | Email: matthew.ramirez@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University, PhD., Fisheries Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Selina Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife | Email: selina.heppell@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey E. Moore, CMAP Leader (California Current Marine Mammal Assessment Program), Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA | Email: jeff.e.moore@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Integration of habitat-specific growth variation into assessment models: a case study in the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

Abstract

Spatiotemporal variation in demographic parameters can strongly influence a species’ population dynamics but is generally not included in sea turtle population models due in part to lack of sufficient data. For example, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that inhabit the U.S. Atlantic Coast grow slower than conspecifics that inhabit the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Coast, which may lead to differences in age at maturation for individuals or whole cohorts. To evaluate the influence of this variation on Kemp’s ridley population dynamics, this NERTO experience focused on developing an improved age-structured population model for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that incorporates habitat-specific vital rate estimates (growth, survival). Using a ~30 year dataset of somatic growth rates obtained through skeletochronology, we developed habitat-specific (Atlantic, GoM) maturation schedules for this species. In addition, ongoing analyses are using 20 years of stranding length frequency data collected through the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network to estimate habitat-specific survival rates that will be included in the model. Ongoing analyses will examine model sensitivity to changes in stage-and habitat-specific model parameters. This project will help answer critical question about the contribution of somatic growth variation, habitat use, and Atlantic turtles, which have been excluded from all existing population models, to Kemp’s ridley population dynamics.

Nicole Kleponis, EPP Intern | Email: nicolekleponis@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Delaware State University, M.S., Natural Resources 
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Christopher Heckscher, Agriculture and Natural Resources | Email: checkscher@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jeannette E. Zamon, NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service, NWFSC, Point Adams Research Station, Hammond, OR | Email: jen.zamon@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Seabird Capture and Diet Analysis

Abstract

Seabird populations have been declining globally and there is little diet information for seabirds in the Colombia River Plume in Oregon. Sooty Shearwaters and Common Murres were captured to obtain stomach content for analysis. Soft tissue analysis was first conducted and then the samples were digested to conduct hard part analysis. The majority of fish found in the 2013 samples analyzed were anchovies.

Rebecca Wenker, EPP Intern | Email: rwenker@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, M.S., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Vincent Guida, NMFS NEFSC J.J. Howard Lab, Highlands, NJ. | Email: vincent.guida@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Development of alternative search strategy for assessing densities of clumped distribution species within a comprehensive image database

Abstract

The systematic search strategy currently used for photo evaluation of large image databases does not work well for species with clumped distributions. Therefore, we planned to develop an adaptive search strategy to better define the habitat of and relationship between black sea bass (Centropristis striata) and sea whip coral (Leptogorgia virgulata), which could then be extrapolated to evaluating other species with a clumped distribution. Unprecedented delays and setbacks prevented this study from being completed to the original extent desired. However, we were able to locate 92 images where at least one black sea bass was present, and 57 where at least one sea whip coral was present. The close proximity and overlap of these images further supports the notion that there is a relationship between these two species.

Shadaesha Green, EPP Intern | Email: sgreen@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: IMET – UMCES; PhD., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. J. Sook Chung, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: chung@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Mr. Bruce Vogt, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, MD | Email: bruce.vogt@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Striped Bass Habitat Indicator for Chesapeake Bay

Abstract

The Chesapeake Bay striped bass (Rockfish) is an iconic species. The Chesapeake Bay serves as the largest nursery habitat for Atlantic striped bass. The main objective of this study was to improve the understanding of nursery habitat areas for juvenile striped bass that support survival and recruitment to the adult population. This project was two-fold: (1) develop a conceptual model indicating factors impacting juvenile striped bass nursery habitat and (2) prepare the Chesapeake Bay striped bass nursery habitat assessment’ Request-for-Proposal (RFP) for submission to the Chesapeake Bay Trust. To complete these tasks interviews were conducted with a variety of scientists and fishery managers in the Chesapeake Bay region to gather their insight on factors influencing nursery habitat for juvenile striped bass.

Shanelle Haughton, EPP Intern | Email: sohaughon@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Pitula; Department of Natural Sciences | Email: jspitula@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Pamela Jensen, NOAA Western Regional Center, Seattle, WA | Email: pam.jensen@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

NERTO Title: Understanding Hematodinium sp. in Alaskan crabs: new hosts, improved detection and health effects in a changing ocean

Abstract

Changes in environmental conditions due to climate change, including increases in sea water temperature, may be linked to increasing rates of pathogen infection in marine animals. One of the pathogens in which host selectivity and prevalence could be influenced by factors like increasing water temperature is Hematodinium sp., an endoparasitic dinoflagellate that can cause significant mortality and economic loss in crustacean fisheries. Hematodinium sp. causes bitter crab disease/syndrome in the economically important snow and Tanner crabs, a fatal infection characterized by lethargy and discoloration of host tissues and carapace due to massive numbers of parasites in host hemolymph and tissues. Work completed during this internship will contribute to future research to better understand the influence of Hematodinium sp. infection on Tanner crab immunity and physiology. My work during this internship consisted of three major parts: 16s sequencing mini project, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) sample collection, and Tanner crab RNA extractions.

Shaneese Mackey, EPP Intern | Email: shaneesemackey19@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University, M.S., Marine Science 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown, Department of Marine Science | Email: hoskins@savannahstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Ron Hill, NOAA SEFSC Galveston Lab, TX | Email: ron.hill@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: UAS Habitat Assessment Project

Abstract

Advancing technology like unmanned aircrafts (UA) can be used by scientists to collect information about the abundance or density of a species that would normally require human efforts. Usage of UAs increases field efficiency and decreases the amount of effort while being less invasive to the environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of using unmanned aerial system (UAS) to assess oyster reefs and wetland habitat. Images of oyster reefs were collected using the APH-28 Hexa-copter during low tide. Images were stored on an external hard drive, uploaded to Drone2Map for stitching, then brought into ArcGIS 10.6 to perform spatial analysis using the Hogland method. Using the Hogland method on obtained UA images would increase the estimation of potential fish habitat at a resolution of 1m. The findings of this project would help project managers be less invasive to the environment while obtaining data on the species and habitat.

Stephanie Martinez-Rivera, EPP Intern | Email: smartinez@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Chris Long, NOAA AFSC, Kodiak Lab, Alaska | Email: chris.long@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Eastern Bering Sea Crab Survey training for CSC graduate student

Wilmelie Cruz-Rivera, EPP Intern | Email: wcruz-marrero@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Doerr, MS. NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center- Galveston Laboratory | Email: jennifer.doerr@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Evaluation of fisheries parameters for a commercially important marine mollusk: growth rates and habitat distribution

Abstract

Queen conch is a marine mollusk that inhabits the Caribbean. This species is one of the main economic resources for small-scale fishers of the area. This resource has been over harvested for decades due to poaching and the high demand of both conch meat and shell. In 1992, queen conch was listed in Appendix II for commercially treated species in parts of the Caribbean. This initiative has promoted scientific investigations to improve the management of the species across the Caribbean. In this study, we estimated queen conch growth rates using two different types of growth models. We used mark-and recapture data to calculate growth rates obtained in      2005-2009 in St. Croix, USVI.  Queen conch growth was estimated using both siphonial length and shell width. Population abundance was calculated using Schnabel method. Results of the research showed that growth patterns using siphonial length are higher in juveniles conchs whereas shell width growth is slower in juvenile conchs and greater in adults. Schnabel abundance showed increase overtime with some seasonal variations. The information provided in this research, could improve the understanding of growth patterns of the species and may improve the management of the species.

Juan Carlo Cervera, EPP Intern | Email: juan.cervera@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS; M.S., Fishing & Fisheries Sci & Mgmt
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. David Die, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ddie@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Leo, NOAA SEFSC Galveston Lab, Galveston, TX. | Email: jennifer.Leo@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Inland Essential Fishery Habitat Mapper Application

Abstract

Essential fishery habitats (EFH) are designated to preserve and maintain those sensitive ecosystems vital to managed fishery species for growth, survival, and reproduction. Impact assessments are performed allowing NOAA specialists to consult with project managers, determine impacts, and recommend mitigation actions to protect those habitats. With many projects being developed in near shore areas, and little clear guidance regarding EFH designations in the Southeast Region, the Habitat Conservation Division (HCD) receives numerous unnecessary consultation requests which can overwhelm their office.  We developed an application that relays high-resolution spatial data needed for accurate determinations of EFH that is user-friendly at all stakeholder levels, including developers, permitters, as well as HCD staff. Several iterations were considered before deciding on an HTML/JavaScript web application currently under testing with NOAA offices.

Sierra Hildebrandt, EPP Intern | Email: sierra.hildebrandt@my.hamptonu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Hampton University; Biological Sciences-Marine Science, M.S., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Deidre Gibson, Marine & Environmental Science | Email: deidre.gibson@hamptonu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Shawn McLaughlin, Jason Spires, and Stephanie Westby, NOAA Cooperative Oxford Lab, Oxford, MD. | Email: shawn.mclaughlin@noaa.govjason.spires@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Investigating the Impacts of Adult Oyster Conditioned Water on Crassostrea virginica Larvae Setting Efficiency Utilizing Direct Setting Techniques in the Hampton River, VA

Abstract

Direct setting is an alternative technique to remote setting that utilizes pediveliger stage oyster larvae to directly seed oyster reefs. This study investigated the impact of varying concentrations of Adult-Oyster-Conditioned-Water (OCW) on Crassostrea virginica larval setting in the laboratory and field. In the laboratory, oyster larvae were introduced to setting chambers with varying concentrations of OCW and allowed 7 days to settle. Field experiments were conducted in which oyster larvae were exposed to either a low or high OCW treatment for 30 minutes and then directly set on artificial oyster reefs. In the laboratory and field, setting efficiencies varied among treatments. This research suggest that OCW may enhance setting efficiencies in the field.

Kristafer Howard, EPP Intern | Email: KristaferHoward@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University – Master of Marine Science
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown – Marine Science |
Email: dionne.hoskins-brown@noaa.gov
NOAA Internship Mentor: Roldan Muñoz- Southeast Fisheries Science Center-Beaufort Laboratory; Nathan Bacheler- Southeast Fisheries Science Center-Beaufort Laboratory |
Email: roldan.munoz@noaa.gov | nate.bacheler@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Abiotic and Biotic Factors Influencing the Community Composition of US Southeast Atlantic Fishes from 2015-2019

Abstract

It is the role of a fisheries manager to make informed management decisions using the best data available. To provide managers with this data the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) conducts the Southeast Fishery Independent Survey (SEFIS). This survey was created to collect data on reef fish from hard bottom habitats in the southeast US using a variety of different sampling methods. The present study focused on a five-year subset of presence/absence data collected via video recorded on baited chevron traps. The purpose of this study was to determine which biotic and abiotic factors determine the community composition of fishes in the southeast US Atlantic Ocean from 2015-2019. We utilized permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA). The major finding of the study was that depth, latitude, and relief appear to be the most influential at determining the community composition of fishes. We also examined the dataset and classified a species as tropical if the center of its geographic distribution fell equal to or less than 10 degrees (north or south) latitude. Those species whose center of geographic distribution was greater than 10 degrees latitude were classified as non-tropical. Over the time period of the study, we determined that the percent change in mean abundance of tropical species was significantly greater than non-tropical species overall (across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) in the southeast US Atlantic Ocean. The results of this study may prove useful for fisheries managers to help predict the possible expansion of tropical fishes and potential changes in fisheries management.

Leanne Cohn, EPP Intern | Email:cohnl@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University- Marine Resource Management
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Flaxen Conway, Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences |
Email: flaxen.conway@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Blake Feist- Northwest Fisheries Science Center, WA |
Email:blake.feist@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Developing methods to detect the effect of CO2 on the physiology of Dungeness crab

Abstract

Rockfish (Sebastes spp.) are commercially and ecologically important across the US West Coast. Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, certain rockfish species have been overfished and exploited to the point of severe population decline. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been established across the US West Coast since 2002 in order to reduce fishing pressure on overexploited rockfish species, and to give their populations the opportunity to recover to sustainable levels. MPAs are not only utilized to rebuild and maintain rockfish populations; they are also used to rebuild and maintain a large breadth of marine natural resources. Rockfish conservation areas (RCAs) are a type of MPA specific to commercially important rockfish species across the US West Coast. RCAs are seasonal and depth specific closures to specific fishing methods such as bottom trawling. The main goal of RCA implementation is to reduce fishing pressure on species that were declared to be ‘overfished’ since
the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is crucial that researchers and managers understand how RCAs impact rockfish populations; one way to achieve this is to quantify and compare fishing activities and rockfish species distributions within RCAs and outside RCAs. Geographic Information Science (GIS) is invaluable to this process as geospatial data layers can be generated and used to overlay and analyze fishing activities with rockfish species distributions across the US West Coast. Such spatiotemporally
dynamic geospatial data layers do not exist yet, therefore, the purpose of this NERTO internship was to assist NOAA with converting 20 years of RCA time series data into usable geospatial data layers that could be used to understand how RCAs impact rockfish populations.

Nicholas Coleman, EPP Intern | Email: ncoleman@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Center for Environmental
Science (UMCES) Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL)
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. David Secor, Fisheries Science |
Email: secor@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Steven Lindley and Dr. Peter Dudley, Fisheries Ecology Division, NOAA Southwest Fisheries
Science Center, Santa Cruz, California |
Email: steve.lindley@noaa.gov and peter.dudley@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Sonar Censusing and habitat use by spawning run Green Sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris

Abstract

The southern distinct population segment (sDPS) of green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) that spawn in the Sacramento River is currently listed as “Threatened” under the Endanger Species Act (ESA). The greatest threats to this population are habitat impediments (dams), habitat degradation, and habitat loss which have occurred consistently since the 1950s due to water diversion efforts. Since the sDPS of green sturgeon was listed as “Threatened” in 2006, a substantial amount of research and conservation has been conducted to understand this population’s habitat use and monitor population abundance. The objective of this study was to identify annual fluctuations in spawning run size and how such fluctuations correlate with
environmental variables (i.e. temperature and flow). Additionally, this study attempted to delineate patterns in habitat use for spawning run individuals. Dual-frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON), a type of acoustic camera, was used to detect the presence of green sturgeon in the Sacramento River during mobile surveys conducted in May/June from 2010 to 2020. The
video collected from these surveys was used to count individual sturgeon at sampled units which were then used to calculate annual estimates of abundance for spawning run sturgeon in the Sacramento River. Annual estimates of abundance were used to investigate correlations with temperature and flow, identify annual fluctuations in spawning run size, and assess patterns in
habitat use. The results from this study found that April flow was the environmental variable with the strongest correlation to annual spawning run size. Four “hot spots” that consistently supported above average abundances of green sturgeon were also identified.

Victoria Moreno, EPP Intern | Email: willvict@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Oregon State University, Master of Public Policy
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Ana Spalding, Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts, School of Public Policy, Assistant Professor of Marine and Coastal Policy | Email: ana.spalding@oregonstate.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor:  Dr. Shallin Busch Conservation Biology Division Deputy Director, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle WA | Email: shallin.busch@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Collaboratively Combating Ocean Acidification: Assessing the economic vulnerability of US communities to Ocean Acidification

Abstract

The rise of atmospheric CO2 concentrations due to anthropogenic activities has had a broad range of effects on earth systems, including ocean acidification (OA). OA is a threat to marine species and ecosystems and the human systems that rely on them. Throughout the United States, industries and communities that depend on the cultivation of shellfish and wild-capture species as major resources are expected to experience impacts of OA as production levels are disrupted by changing ocean chemistry. For action to be taken at the Federal, state, and local levels through policy and management regarding OA mitigation and adaption, a uniform framework must be established to help communities and industries and the governmental systems associated with them respond effectively to future change. This research project aimed to create and assess a framework for the Federal, state, local agencies to implement effective policies and initiatives related to OA in the US. Through an in-depth interdisciplinary literature review on vulnerability, a framework was developed to assess vulnerability at a national scale in an interdisciplinary fashion. Throughout the project, there was also the engagement of communicating scientific efforts surrounding OA vulnerability and initiatives to the public, explicitly interacting with Federal and public lines of communication and information transfer.

Adrianne Wilson, EPP Intern | Email: adrianne.wilson@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS, Ph.D., Marine Biology and Ecology
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Emailebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Robert Allman, NMFS, SEFSC, Panama City, FL | Emailrobert.allman@noaa.gov 
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Age and Growth of Lane Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico

Abstract

The sagittal otoliths for 499 Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris) were collected, processed and aged. Samples were collected from the Gulf of Mexico, ranging from the southwest tip of Florida to the eastern portion of Texas from January 2015 to October 2017. Otoliths were sectioned, mounted to a microscope slide and aged using a compound microscope. One reader counted annuli and sub-samples were read by a second reader to ensure consistent and accurate ageing. Fork length measurements ranged from 202mm to 495mm. The oldest fish aged was 13 years. There was a significant difference in the growth parameter estimates between males and females so they were analyzed separately. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters were for males: growth coefficient, K = 0.462, asymptotic length, L00 =378.17, and t0 = -0.868; and for females: growth coefficient, K =0.271, asymptotic length, L00 =383.42, and t0 = -2.08). 

Amanda Lawrence, EPP Intern | Email: alawrence@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  IMET – UMCES; M.S., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. J. Sook Chung, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: chung@umces.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor:  Dr. Paul McElhany, NWFSC, Mukilteo Field Station, Ocean Acidification | Email: paul.mcelhany@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Developing methods to detect the effect of CO2 on the physiology of Dungeness crab

Abstract

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased from approximately 280 parts per million (ppm) to 387 ppm since the start of the industrial revolution (Feely and Doney et al., 2009). Current COconcentrations exceed that of levels that have not been observed in over 800,000 years (Luthi et al., 2008). This increased abundance in atmospheric COhas resulted in the oceans absorbing approximately one-quarter of anthropogenic CO2 (Sabine and Feely, 2007). This shift in oceanic conditions drives chemical changes that have the potential to leave ecosystems and a range of species at risk. Effects of projected seawater CO2 levels have been shown to alter olfactory-mediated behaviors in the economically and environmentally important Coho salmon (Williams et al., 2019). Gill breathers regulate internal pH through the process of ion transport, which is a process directly influenced by the changing water chemistry. More specifically, nearshore benthic ecosystems and calcareous species are predicted to experience some of the more severe impacts regarding a lowering pH (Wootton et al., 2008). Here we will utilize respiration rate to determine the energetic cost of maintaining internal pH in future oceanic conditions, specifically throughout the development of the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister.

Amanda Pappas, EPP Intern | Email: akpappas09@students.desu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Delaware State University, M.S. Natural Resources
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: gozbay@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Gary Wikfors, Northeast  Fisheries Science Center Milford, CT | Email: gary.wikfors@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies 

NERTO Title: Change in Photosynthetic Efficiency and Chlorophyll Fluorescence over Time in Prey Starved Dinophysis acuminata

Abstract

Dinophysis acuminata is an obligate mixotrophic dinoflagellate that is found in coastal marine water of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, brackish water tributaries, and bays.  Dinophysis acuminata is known in many cases to produce toxins of okadaic acid, Dinophysis toxins, and pectenotoxins.  These toxins are associated with Diarrhetic Shellfish poisoning in humans. Dinophysis acuminata is emerging as a potential threat to the developing oyster aquaculture industry in the Delaware Inland Bays.  There are sites within the Delaware Inland Bays that D. acuminata has been present in high concentrations, but how close spring blooms of D. acuminata come to shellfish aquaculture sites is not known.  Little is known of the bloom dynamics of this harmful algae bloom species within the Delaware Inland Bays. The results of this study will aid in determining how long chloroplasts acquired by D. acuminata through kleptoplasty remain functional under prey starved conditions.  Nutrients, light, and prey availability are drivers of spring blooms.  Understanding how long chloroplasts remain capable of photosynthesis in D. acuminata can inform questions on bloom dynamics and overwintering strategies. Culture of Dinophysis acuminata was fed prey, Mesodinium rubrum and then starved.  Results from a Fluorescence Induction and Relaxation System show a decline in the variable fluorescence (Fv/Fm) over time, indicating that the maximum quantum yield of photochemical quenching in PSII is decreasing with time. Results at 25 days indicate a decrease from Fv/Fm of 0.56 to 0.48.  Results of a linear regression analysis of the data show little variability between mean data points and relation between Fv/Fm and time.  Sampling and data analysis are still being performed.

Ammar Hanif, EPP Intern | Email: hanif.ammar@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  IMET – UMCES; Ph.D., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Rosemary Jagus , Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: jagus@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Ed Johnson, NOAA Headquarters, Silver Spring, MD. | Email: ed.johnson@noaa.govDr. Felipe Arzayus,  NCCOS, Stressor Detection and Impacts Division, Monitoring & Assessment Branch, Silver Spring, MD, | Email: felipe.arzayus@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Temporal Study of Diet and Microbiome of Mussels Collected from Lake Michigan

Abstract

Two species of invasive dreissenid mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) have successfully established across Europe and North America and have drastically changed resident ecosystems and food webs. Most studies involving these mussels in the Laurentian Great Lakes have focused on organism physiology, distribution, ecological effects, and genetics. This study aims to characterize the microbiome of dreissenid mussel gills, for which limited information is available. The microbiota of mussels is associated with their aquatic habitat and varies with factors such as salinity, bacterial load in the water, temperature and diet, and are likely to respond to environmental change. Limited data is available regarding the dreissenid mussel microbiome. The recent development of high-throughput sequencing and metabarcoding has given deeper insights into microbial communities. Preliminary monitoring efforts by the Mussel Watch Program suggest that the dreissenid mussel metabolome may change seasonally. This led to the initiation of a temporal study to address how environmental change affects the mussel gill microbiome and mussel metabolomics. We sampled the microbial community found within the gill tissue of D. r. bugensis collected biweekly or monthly from a single site in Lake Michigan between May and November. The microbial community will be assessed using high-throughput sequencing and metabarcoding. These data will be used to determine whether the mussel gill microbiome can be used as a biological indicator of water quality. This study is a collaboration between NOAA’s Mussel Watch program (Great Lakes region) and NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory that will augment ongoing studies of mussel physiology and benthic ecology.

Andre Price, EPP Intern | Email: alprice370@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Marine, M.S., Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Richard McBride, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: richard.mcbride@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Prey Identification and Quantification of Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) Stomachs

Abstract

Food habits of black sea bass (BSB, Centropristis striata) have been studied from trawl surveys in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, but no studies have compared food choices between specific habitats or locations. We sampled BSB at selected natural and artificial reefs near Ocean City, MD using hook-and-line angling to determine how habitat preferences influenced length frequencies, sex ratio, or dietary preferences.  Stomach content analysis was used to determine whether diets varied significantly between sampling locations. Preliminary results from 2016 indicate that crustaceans dominate diets of BSB by frequency of occurrence. This data will help to understand how BSB utilize different habitat types, and the contribution of reef habitats to BSB populations in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.

Angie Munguia, EPP Intern | Email: angelica.munguia@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Oregon State University; M.S., Fisheries & Wildlife – Fisheries Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Jessica Miller, Fisheries & Wildlife  | Email: jessica.miller@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Laurie Weitkamp, NOAA Point Adams NWMFS Lab. | Email: laurie.weitkamp@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

NERTO Title: Juvenile salmon long term-habitat monitoring and field collections for action effective monitoring research (AEMR) in the Lower Columbia River and Estuary

Benjamin Frey, EPP Intern | Email: bfrey@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: CBL – UMCES; M.S., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisors: Dr. Rosemary Jagus, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: jagus@umces.edu
Dr. Dave Secor, Chesapeake Bay Laboratory | Email: secor@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Anne Richards, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: anne.richards@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Validation of age and growth estimates of New England and Mid-Atlantic demersal fishes using microstructural analysis of hardparts

Abstract

Monkfish (Lophius americanus) supports high value fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England. Conservative fishing quotas were imposed owing to refutation of traditional ageing methods that resulted in uncertainties in stock status. Without accurate age interpretation or validation, serious errors in the assessment and management of fish stocks can occur. This internship at the NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) examined the current assessment processes including fishery-independent methods, biological sampling, age determination methods for monkfish and other species (black sea bass, haddock, yellowtail flounder, red hake and silver hake) and age-dependent stock assessment models. I participated in a 2-week leg of the Northeast Fall Bottom Trawl Survey. I trained with the NEFSC Age & Growth group reviewing ageing methods for these species. I met with the assessment leads for each species, reviewing how age-dependent assessments are used in establishing biological reference points and evaluating stock status. My thesis research will continue to involve my NEFSC mentors as I develop novel approaches to age monkfish using trace element micro-constituent analysis of hardparts. 

Brian Galvez, EPP Intern | Email: briangalvez427@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Delaware State University, M.S. Natural Resources 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Stacy Smith, Natural Resources | Email: slsmith@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD. | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Determining diet of Delaware Bay weakfish using stomach content and stable isotope analysis 

Abstract

The weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) is a valuable commercial and recreational fish species that primarily occurs from North Carolina to New York. The fishery is depleted and has not rebounded due to unknown causes of elevated rates of natural mortality. We applied stable isotope and stomach content analyses to examine the diet of weakfish throughout the Delaware Bay from late spring to early fall in 2017 (May through October). Using these methods, our goal was to answer questions regarding the trophic ecology of weakfish including prey availability, prey preference, and prey origin. The bay was separated into three parts along the salinity gradient and weakfish were separated into three size classes representing ontogenetic shifts in diet (small- 0-60, medium- 60-100, large- 100-137 mm SL). We found that mysid shrimp, amphipods, and unidentified fish dominated the diet of weakfish throughout the summer and early fall. Examining stomach content by season, the percent frequency (%F) of mysid shrimp decreased significantly in the middle bay from late spring to summer (from 90 %F to ~60 %F) with a concurrent increase in amphipod consumption in the same period on the Delaware side of the bay (from ~15 %F to 90 %F). The opposite relationship between amphipod and mysid shrimp consumption was recorded from summer to fall. Stable isotope data was analyzed using generalized linear models (GLMs) and generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) for each isotope by each size class weakfish with the variables of bay location, season, and state. The goal of the GLM and GLMM results was to inform the setup of future stable isotope mixing models in terms of spatiotemporal scales. 

Cara Schweitzer, EPP Intern | Email: cara.schweitzer42@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Ph.D., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Michael L. Burton, NOAA Fisheries, Beaufort Lab, NC | Email: michael.burton@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Evaluation of Southeast Reef Fish Survey (SERFS) videos for Atlantic Sharks 

Cristin Mayes, EPP Intern | Email: cristin.mayes@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Hampton University; M.S., Applied Mathematics
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Eric Lewallen, Biological Sciences | Email: eric.lewallen@hamptonu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Michael Fogarty, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: michael.fogarty@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Ecosystem Based Approaches to Modeling Fish Species Distributions in the Chesapeake Bay

Detbra Rosales, EPP Intern | Email: drosales@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Ph.D.,  Marine, Estuarine Environmental Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Pitula, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: jspitula@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. John Jacobs, NOAA/NCCOS/Oxford Lab. | Email: john.jacobs@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Seafood Safety

NERTO Title: The Influence of okadaic acid on gene expression and bacterial susceptibility 

Abstract

Diuretic shellfish poisoning (DSP) is a worldwide problem for bivalve aquaculture. Due to the presence of DSP toxins in oysters at concentrations that exceed set regulatory limits, there have been many closures to shellfish harvesting. This can lead to significant economic loses in both commercial and recreational shellfish industries. The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, can accumulate diuretic shellfish toxins (DST) when exposed to marine dinoflagellates that produce DSTs. Dinophysis and Prorocentrum are two dinoflagellate genera commonly found in Mid-Atlantic waters that are known to produce DSTs.  Studies have shown that dinoflagellate toxins producers, such as Alexandrium catenella can increase oysters’ susceptibility to bacterial infections. However studies on how okadaic acid affects oysters susceptibility is scarce.  Our goal is to provide insight on the stress response of C. virginica after laboratory exposure to OA and the bacterial pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus, through the analysis of the expression of HSP70 (Heat shock protein 70) and CP450 (Cytochrome p450) stress genes.

Emily Griffin, EPP Intern
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University, M.S., Marine Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Tara Cox, Department of Marine Science | Email: coxt@savannahstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Patricia Rosel, NOAA Lafayette, Louisiana. | Email: patricia.rosel@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Evaluation of the Southern Border of the Northern Georgia/Southern South Carolina Estuarine System stock of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) through Genetic Analyses

Abstract

The goal of this research is to learn the proper techniques to identify the correct stock boundaries of bottlenose dolphins. Identifying proper stock boundaries is essential for the proper management of protected species such as the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). This project is looking at potential genetic differences in bottlenose dolphin stocks off the coast of Northern Georgia. Biopsy samples were collected from dolphins in this region and will be taken to the Lafayette laboratory for further genetic analyses. The NGSSCES stock meets the Central Georgia Estuarine Stock at northern Ossabaw Sound just south of Savannah, Ga. However, recent research suggests this boundary needs to be re-evaluated. The information obtained while working in this lab will inform us if the southern border of the NGGSCES stock is accurate. Through the genetic work we will also have the opportunity to determine the sex of these animals as is very difficult to do in the field.

Enid C. Muñoz Ruiz, EPP Intern | Email: ecmunoz@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; M.S., Aquatic Toxicology
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Ali Ishaque, Department of Natural Science | Email: abishaque@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Ashok Deshpande, 732-872-3043, NEFSC, Sandy Hook, NJ. | Email: ashok.deshpande@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

NERTO Title: Method development of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) QUECHERS extraction in Scallops

Abstract

Plastic fragments, pellets, fibers and cosmetic beads less than 5 mm in size are termed as microplastics. These are emerging contaminants that in recent years have been found in tap water samples all over the world and a in a vast array of aquatic organisms with the possibility of toxic effects in them. Multiple studies have implied that, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), persistent bioaccumulative fire-retardant pollutants, in fish tissues display positive correlations with geographic plastic debris densities. Examination of this linear relationship with respect to the benthic environment using sea scallops as model organism is the research main focus. Scallop and bottom water column samples were collected from multiple regions across Georges Bank and Mid-Atlantic Bight. The optimum extraction method to yield the optimum quantification of hydrophobic bioaccumulative compounds in the Atlantic Sea Scallop, Placopecten magellanicus, using modern solid phase extraction “quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe” (QUECHERS) has been obtained. Sea scallops are important commercial organisms with fisheries dredging over 50 million pounds annually for seafood consumption; our research directly contributes to NOAA’s goal to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources by providing the scientific foundation for understanding many future studies of the dangers microplastics can have on important ecological commercial species.

Halie O’Farrell, EPP Intern | Email: hofarrell@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS; Ph.D., Marine Biology and Fisheries 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Enric Cortes, NOAA NMFS Panama City Field Laboratory, Panama City, Florida | Email: enric.cortes@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Comparing shark harvest control rules to potential biological removals when determining total allowable catches

Abstract

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires fisheries management councils to avoid overfishing by setting total allowable catch (TAC) limits. Currently, shark species’ TACs are set by estimating the relative abundance and projecting forward 20 years under various catch levels while accounting for uncertainty. The TAC is the catch level at which there is a 70% probability that the stock is not overfished in the projection period. While the use of projections is an established method used for many fish species, it is very complicated requiring a lot of information for several parameters and high computing time. In a climate where more stock assessments and management decisions are being requested in less time with fewer resources, a simpler, more efficient method for determining TACs is needed. Management of protected marine mammals utilized the potential biological removals (PBR) approach to set limits. Calculation of a PBR requires little information and they can be computed quickly. Because sharks have a similar life history to marine mammals we explore the possibility of using the PBR method as a more efficient method of establishing TACs. For the purposes of this exploratory work, shark species were limited to those assessed and managed in the south east United States and by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). TAC values were extracted from the latest stock assessments for each species, in addition to the information required to calculate a PBR. TAC and PBR values are compared to determine the validity of using the PBR method. This method has showed promise, but is not yet adequately supported as a viable solution.

Jorge J. Rodriguez, EPP Intern | Email: jjrodriguez@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. A. K. Nyame, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: aknyame@gmail.com
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Gary Wikfors | Email: gary.wikfors@noaa.gov & Dr. April Croxton | Email: april.croxton@noaa.gov; NOAA Lab, Milford, CT
Project Category:  Cytology/Molecular Biology

NERTO Title: Use of density step gradient centrifugation and differential lectin binding to characterize Mytilus edulis hemocyte subpopulations by flow cytometry

Abstract

Mytilus edulis, commonly known as the blue mussel, relies on circulating hemocytes to eliminate invading pathogens. However, there is a lack of knowledge about other functions hemocytes may carry, as well as their life-cycle and ontogeny. Currently, hemocyte subpopulations are classified by morphological differences observed through light microscopy. Here we report the elucidation of two hemocyte subpopulations based on density step-gradient centrifugation combined with the differential binding of Fluorescein (FITC)-conjugated Aleuria aurantia lectin (AAL) and FITC-conjugated wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) to cell surface glycoproteins.  Earlier lectin blot studies demonstrated that soluble hemocyte extracts from M. edulis hemocytes express glycoconjugates with terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine carbohydrate moieties. Flow cytometry analysis of FITC-conjugated AAL and FITC-conjugated WGA stained hemocytes demonstrate the presence of terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine carbohydrate moieties on M. edulis cell surface glycoconjugates. Additional studies reveal that the majority of these terminal carbohydrates are found on protein backbones that are susceptible to cleavage with trypsin, a protease known to cleave the carboxyl side of peptides containing lysine or arginine. The expression of these terminal carbohydrate moieties is not evenly distributed among hemocytes. Here we report that approximately 30% of hemocytes express glycoproteins with terminal N-acetylglucosamine, while 70% of hemocytes express glycoproteins with terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine. The expression of terminal fucose and N- acetylglucosamine increases as hemocytes increase in size and level of granularity. Interestingly, smaller agranular hemocytes do not express terminal fucose. These results show the presence of two distinct M. edulis hemocyte subpopulations based on the differential expression of cell surface glycoproteins with terminal N-acetylglucosamine only, or terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine.

Kasondra Rubalcava, EPP Intern | Email: kdrubalcava@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Paulinus Chigbu, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: pchigbu@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA/NMFS/ST/Ecosystems, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

NERTO Title: Development of a Maryland Coastal Bays Ecosystem Model to Assess the Influence of Climatic Factors on Biomass Distributions of Fish and Macroinvertebrates, Food Web Linkages and Community Structure

Abstract

The Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs) are a system of shallow lagoons on the US East Coast connected to the Atlantic Ocean by two inlets. They are one of the most ecologically diverse estuaries on the east coast and serve as a nursery for many commercially important species such as black sea bass, summer flounder and blue crabs. Due to their significant use by the public, MCBs are vulnerable to environmental and human pressures. Understanding how environmental parameters affect the ecosystem can help in managing a changing ecosystem. We created a fisheries ecosystem model consisting of 22 functional groups and species from the MCBs using Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) software to explore influence of environmental factors on biomass distributions of key fish species including summer flounder, black sea bass, bay anchovy, weakfish, and blue crab. The biomass input data used for Ecopath was estimated from abundance index data through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDDNR) Coastal Bays Fisheries Investigation Trawl and Beach Seine Survey. Time series data imported from 1990-2017 through the MDDNR survey was used to fit the model. Climate change scenarios were run using changes in temperature and salinity to analyze the effects they have on key species in the MCBs. The results of this study will aid in management of the MCBs as it is a nursery habitat for commercially important species.

LaTreese S. Denson, EPP Intern | Email: ldenson@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami – RSMAS, PhD., Marine Biology and Ecology
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. James Thorson, NMFS, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, HEPR, Seattle, Washington | Email: james.thorson@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Environmental influences on indices of abundance for King Mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico examined through spatiotemporal geostatistical models

Abstract

During the NERTO experience from September to December 2018, I developed skills in random effects modeling to understand spatial processes in fish population dynamics, here-in referred to as geostatistical modeling. These models were tested using larval count data from the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) Fall Plankton Survey. Originally, a non-geostatistical model was fit to the data to derive an index of abundance for spawning stock biomass; however, the original index did not explicitly account for the uncertainty in spatial variation on population density or catchability. Failing to account for this source of uncertainty in a model, underestimates the overall uncertainty of an index of abundance. During the NERTO I began to explore the effect of spatial and spatiotemporal variability using a geostatistical model on King mackerel ichthyoplankton abundance indices and density distribution. I began with the use of delta-log normal models for zero inflated data. As expected, considering spatial variability creates a better model according to the Akaike Information Criterion. Additionally, adding spatial and temporal variability to the original model only slightly increases the standard deviation (uncertainty) of the index of abundance. Future research will include using Poisson-link models to better describe the error structure and variability in the data. I will also further investigate the individual contribution of the original covariates when considering spatial structure as well as environmental covariates such as temperature and chlorophyll.

Laura Almodóvar-Acevedo, EPP Intern | Email: lcalmodovaracevedo@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA/NMFS/ST/Ecosystems, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

Abstract

The objective of this study is to have empirical data about black sea bass respiration rates at different temperatures. This information will give us a better idea of black sea bass bioenergetics and will also be incorporated into a juvenile black sea bass habitat suitability model for the Chesapeake Bay.

Matthew Ramirez, EPP Intern | Email: matthew.ramirez@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University, PhD., Fisheries Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Selina Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife | Email: selina.heppell@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey E. Moore, CMAP Leader (California Current Marine Mammal Assessment Program), Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA | Email: jeff.e.moore@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Integration of habitat-specific growth variation into assessment models: a case study in the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

Abstract

Spatiotemporal variation in demographic parameters can strongly influence a species’ population dynamics but is generally not included in sea turtle population models due in part to lack of sufficient data. For example, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that inhabit the U.S. Atlantic Coast grow slower than conspecifics that inhabit the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Coast, which may lead to differences in age at maturation for individuals or whole cohorts. To evaluate the influence of this variation on Kemp’s ridley population dynamics, this NERTO experience focused on developing an improved age-structured population model for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that incorporates habitat-specific vital rate estimates (growth, survival). Using a ~30 year dataset of somatic growth rates obtained through skeletochronology, we developed habitat-specific (Atlantic, GoM) maturation schedules for this species. In addition, ongoing analyses are using 20 years of stranding length frequency data collected through the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network to estimate habitat-specific survival rates that will be included in the model. Ongoing analyses will examine model sensitivity to changes in stage-and habitat-specific model parameters. This project will help answer critical question about the contribution of somatic growth variation, habitat use, and Atlantic turtles, which have been excluded from all existing population models, to Kemp’s ridley population dynamics.

Nicole Kleponis, EPP Intern | Email: nicolekleponis@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Delaware State University, M.S., Natural Resources 
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Christopher Heckscher, Agriculture and Natural Resources | Email: checkscher@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jeannette E. Zamon, NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service, NWFSC, Point Adams Research Station, Hammond, OR | Email: jen.zamon@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Seabird Capture and Diet Analysis

Abstract

Seabird populations have been declining globally and there is little diet information for seabirds in the Colombia River Plume in Oregon. Sooty Shearwaters and Common Murres were captured to obtain stomach content for analysis. Soft tissue analysis was first conducted and then the samples were digested to conduct hard part analysis. The majority of fish found in the 2013 samples analyzed were anchovies.

Rebecca Wenker, EPP Intern | Email: rwenker@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, M.S., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Vincent Guida, NMFS NEFSC J.J. Howard Lab, Highlands, NJ. | Email: vincent.guida@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Development of alternative search strategy for assessing densities of clumped distribution species within a comprehensive image database

Abstract

The systematic search strategy currently used for photo evaluation of large image databases does not work well for species with clumped distributions. Therefore, we planned to develop an adaptive search strategy to better define the habitat of and relationship between black sea bass (Centropristis striata) and sea whip coral (Leptogorgia virgulata), which could then be extrapolated to evaluating other species with a clumped distribution. Unprecedented delays and setbacks prevented this study from being completed to the original extent desired. However, we were able to locate 92 images where at least one black sea bass was present, and 57 where at least one sea whip coral was present. The close proximity and overlap of these images further supports the notion that there is a relationship between these two species.

Shadaesha Green, EPP Intern | Email: sgreen@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: IMET – UMCES; PhD., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. J. Sook Chung, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: chung@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Mr. Bruce Vogt, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, MD | Email: bruce.vogt@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Striped Bass Habitat Indicator for Chesapeake Bay

Abstract

The Chesapeake Bay striped bass (Rockfish) is an iconic species. The Chesapeake Bay serves as the largest nursery habitat for Atlantic striped bass. The main objective of this study was to improve the understanding of nursery habitat areas for juvenile striped bass that support survival and recruitment to the adult population. This project was two-fold: (1) develop a conceptual model indicating factors impacting juvenile striped bass nursery habitat and (2) prepare the Chesapeake Bay striped bass nursery habitat assessment’ Request-for-Proposal (RFP) for submission to the Chesapeake Bay Trust. To complete these tasks interviews were conducted with a variety of scientists and fishery managers in the Chesapeake Bay region to gather their insight on factors influencing nursery habitat for juvenile striped bass.

Shanelle Haughton, EPP Intern | Email: sohaughon@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Pitula; Department of Natural Sciences | Email: jspitula@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Pamela Jensen, NOAA Western Regional Center, Seattle, WA | Email: pam.jensen@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

NERTO Title: Understanding Hematodinium sp. in Alaskan crabs: new hosts, improved detection and health effects in a changing ocean

Abstract

Changes in environmental conditions due to climate change, including increases in sea water temperature, may be linked to increasing rates of pathogen infection in marine animals. One of the pathogens in which host selectivity and prevalence could be influenced by factors like increasing water temperature is Hematodinium sp., an endoparasitic dinoflagellate that can cause significant mortality and economic loss in crustacean fisheries. Hematodinium sp. causes bitter crab disease/syndrome in the economically important snow and Tanner crabs, a fatal infection characterized by lethargy and discoloration of host tissues and carapace due to massive numbers of parasites in host hemolymph and tissues. Work completed during this internship will contribute to future research to better understand the influence of Hematodinium sp. infection on Tanner crab immunity and physiology. My work during this internship consisted of three major parts: 16s sequencing mini project, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) sample collection, and Tanner crab RNA extractions.

Shaneese Mackey, EPP Intern | Email: shaneesemackey19@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University, M.S., Marine Science 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown, Department of Marine Science | Email: hoskins@savannahstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Ron Hill, NOAA SEFSC Galveston Lab, TX | Email: ron.hill@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: UAS Habitat Assessment Project

Abstract

Advancing technology like unmanned aircrafts (UA) can be used by scientists to collect information about the abundance or density of a species that would normally require human efforts. Usage of UAs increases field efficiency and decreases the amount of effort while being less invasive to the environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of using unmanned aerial system (UAS) to assess oyster reefs and wetland habitat. Images of oyster reefs were collected using the APH-28 Hexa-copter during low tide. Images were stored on an external hard drive, uploaded to Drone2Map for stitching, then brought into ArcGIS 10.6 to perform spatial analysis using the Hogland method. Using the Hogland method on obtained UA images would increase the estimation of potential fish habitat at a resolution of 1m. The findings of this project would help project managers be less invasive to the environment while obtaining data on the species and habitat.

Stephanie Martinez-Rivera, EPP Intern | Email: smartinez@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Chris Long, NOAA AFSC, Kodiak Lab, Alaska | Email: chris.long@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Eastern Bering Sea Crab Survey training for CSC graduate student

Wilmelie Cruz-Rivera, EPP Intern | Email: wcruz-marrero@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Doerr, MS. NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center- Galveston Laboratory | Email: jennifer.doerr@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Evaluation of fisheries parameters for a commercially important marine mollusk: growth rates and habitat distribution

Abstract

Queen conch is a marine mollusk that inhabits the Caribbean. This species is one of the main economic resources for small-scale fishers of the area. This resource has been over harvested for decades due to poaching and the high demand of both conch meat and shell. In 1992, queen conch was listed in Appendix II for commercially treated species in parts of the Caribbean. This initiative has promoted scientific investigations to improve the management of the species across the Caribbean. In this study, we estimated queen conch growth rates using two different types of growth models. We used mark-and recapture data to calculate growth rates obtained in      2005-2009 in St. Croix, USVI.  Queen conch growth was estimated using both siphonial length and shell width. Population abundance was calculated using Schnabel method. Results of the research showed that growth patterns using siphonial length are higher in juveniles conchs whereas shell width growth is slower in juvenile conchs and greater in adults. Schnabel abundance showed increase overtime with some seasonal variations. The information provided in this research, could improve the understanding of growth patterns of the species and may improve the management of the species.

Brittany King, EPP Intern | Email: brittany.king@oregonstate.edu 
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University, Ph.D., Fisheries Science 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Kelly Biedenweg and Dr. Jessica Miller, Fisheries & Wildlife  | Email: kelly.biedenweg@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Robert Fonner, NOAA NWFSC, Seattle, WA | Email: robby.fonner@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Socio-economics

NERTO Title: Ecological, Institutional and Social Influences on Habitat Restoration Efforts in the Pacific Northwest

Abstract

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Juan Carlo Cervera, EPP Intern | Email: juan.cervera@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS; M.S., Fishing & Fisheries Sci & Mgmt
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. David Die, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ddie@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Leo, NOAA SEFSC Galveston Lab, Galveston, TX. | Email: jennifer.Leo@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Inland Essential Fishery Habitat Mapper Application

Abstract

Essential fishery habitats (EFH) are designated to preserve and maintain those sensitive ecosystems vital to managed fishery species for growth, survival, and reproduction. Impact assessments are performed allowing NOAA specialists to consult with project managers, determine impacts, and recommend mitigation actions to protect those habitats. With many projects being developed in near shore areas, and little clear guidance regarding EFH designations in the Southeast Region, the Habitat Conservation Division (HCD) receives numerous unnecessary consultation requests which can overwhelm their office.  We developed an application that relays high-resolution spatial data needed for accurate determinations of EFH that is user-friendly at all stakeholder levels, including developers, permitters, as well as HCD staff. Several iterations were considered before deciding on an HTML/JavaScript web application currently under testing with NOAA offices.

Sierra Hildebrandt, EPP Intern | Email: sierra.hildebrandt@my.hamptonu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Hampton University; Biological Sciences-Marine Science, M.S., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Deidre Gibson, Marine & Environmental Science | Email: deidre.gibson@hamptonu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Shawn McLaughlin, Jason Spires, and Stephanie Westby, NOAA Cooperative Oxford Lab, Oxford, MD. | Email: shawn.mclaughlin@noaa.govjason.spires@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Investigating the Impacts of Adult Oyster Conditioned Water on Crassostrea virginica Larvae Setting Efficiency Utilizing Direct Setting Techniques in the Hampton River, VA

Abstract

Direct setting is an alternative technique to remote setting that utilizes pediveliger stage oyster larvae to directly seed oyster reefs. This study investigated the impact of varying concentrations of Adult-Oyster-Conditioned-Water (OCW) on Crassostrea virginica larval setting in the laboratory and field. In the laboratory, oyster larvae were introduced to setting chambers with varying concentrations of OCW and allowed 7 days to settle. Field experiments were conducted in which oyster larvae were exposed to either a low or high OCW treatment for 30 minutes and then directly set on artificial oyster reefs. In the laboratory and field, setting efficiencies varied among treatments. This research suggest that OCW may enhance setting efficiencies in the field.

Kristafer Howard, EPP Intern | Email: KristaferHoward@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University – Master of Marine Science
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown – Marine Science |
Email: dionne.hoskins-brown@noaa.gov
NOAA Internship Mentor: Roldan Muñoz- Southeast Fisheries Science Center-Beaufort Laboratory; Nathan Bacheler- Southeast Fisheries Science Center-Beaufort Laboratory |
Email: roldan.munoz@noaa.gov | nate.bacheler@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Abiotic and Biotic Factors Influencing the Community Composition of US Southeast Atlantic Fishes from 2015-2019

Abstract

It is the role of a fisheries manager to make informed management decisions using the best data available. To provide managers with this data the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) conducts the Southeast Fishery Independent Survey (SEFIS). This survey was created to collect data on reef fish from hard bottom habitats in the southeast US using a variety of different sampling methods. The present study focused on a five-year subset of presence/absence data collected via video recorded on baited chevron traps. The purpose of this study was to determine which biotic and abiotic factors determine the community composition of fishes in the southeast US Atlantic Ocean from 2015-2019. We utilized permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA). The major finding of the study was that depth, latitude, and relief appear to be the most influential at determining the community composition of fishes. We also examined the dataset and classified a species as tropical if the center of its geographic distribution fell equal to or less than 10 degrees (north or south) latitude. Those species whose center of geographic distribution was greater than 10 degrees latitude were classified as non-tropical. Over the time period of the study, we determined that the percent change in mean abundance of tropical species was significantly greater than non-tropical species overall (across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) in the southeast US Atlantic Ocean. The results of this study may prove useful for fisheries managers to help predict the possible expansion of tropical fishes and potential changes in fisheries management.

Leanne Cohn, EPP Intern | Email:cohnl@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University- Marine Resource Management
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Flaxen Conway, Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences |
Email: flaxen.conway@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Blake Feist- Northwest Fisheries Science Center, WA |
Email:blake.feist@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Developing methods to detect the effect of CO2 on the physiology of Dungeness crab

Abstract

Rockfish (Sebastes spp.) are commercially and ecologically important across the US West Coast. Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, certain rockfish species have been overfished and exploited to the point of severe population decline. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been established across the US West Coast since 2002 in order to reduce fishing pressure on overexploited rockfish species, and to give their populations the opportunity to recover to sustainable levels. MPAs are not only utilized to rebuild and maintain rockfish populations; they are also used to rebuild and maintain a large breadth of marine natural resources. Rockfish conservation areas (RCAs) are a type of MPA specific to commercially important rockfish species across the US West Coast. RCAs are seasonal and depth specific closures to specific fishing methods such as bottom trawling. The main goal of RCA implementation is to reduce fishing pressure on species that were declared to be ‘overfished’ since
the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is crucial that researchers and managers understand how RCAs impact rockfish populations; one way to achieve this is to quantify and compare fishing activities and rockfish species distributions within RCAs and outside RCAs. Geographic Information Science (GIS) is invaluable to this process as geospatial data layers can be generated and used to overlay and analyze fishing activities with rockfish species distributions across the US West Coast. Such spatiotemporally
dynamic geospatial data layers do not exist yet, therefore, the purpose of this NERTO internship was to assist NOAA with converting 20 years of RCA time series data into usable geospatial data layers that could be used to understand how RCAs impact rockfish populations.

Nicholas Coleman, EPP Intern | Email: ncoleman@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Center for Environmental
Science (UMCES) Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL)
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. David Secor, Fisheries Science |
Email: secor@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Steven Lindley and Dr. Peter Dudley, Fisheries Ecology Division, NOAA Southwest Fisheries
Science Center, Santa Cruz, California |
Email: steve.lindley@noaa.gov and peter.dudley@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Sonar Censusing and habitat use by spawning run Green Sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris

Abstract

The southern distinct population segment (sDPS) of green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) that spawn in the Sacramento River is currently listed as “Threatened” under the Endanger Species Act (ESA). The greatest threats to this population are habitat impediments (dams), habitat degradation, and habitat loss which have occurred consistently since the 1950s due to water diversion efforts. Since the sDPS of green sturgeon was listed as “Threatened” in 2006, a substantial amount of research and conservation has been conducted to understand this population’s habitat use and monitor population abundance. The objective of this study was to identify annual fluctuations in spawning run size and how such fluctuations correlate with
environmental variables (i.e. temperature and flow). Additionally, this study attempted to delineate patterns in habitat use for spawning run individuals. Dual-frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON), a type of acoustic camera, was used to detect the presence of green sturgeon in the Sacramento River during mobile surveys conducted in May/June from 2010 to 2020. The
video collected from these surveys was used to count individual sturgeon at sampled units which were then used to calculate annual estimates of abundance for spawning run sturgeon in the Sacramento River. Annual estimates of abundance were used to investigate correlations with temperature and flow, identify annual fluctuations in spawning run size, and assess patterns in
habitat use. The results from this study found that April flow was the environmental variable with the strongest correlation to annual spawning run size. Four “hot spots” that consistently supported above average abundances of green sturgeon were also identified.

Victoria Moreno, EPP Intern | Email: willvict@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Oregon State University, Master of Public Policy
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Ana Spalding, Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts, School of Public Policy, Assistant Professor of Marine and Coastal Policy | Email: ana.spalding@oregonstate.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor:  Dr. Shallin Busch Conservation Biology Division Deputy Director, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle WA | Email: shallin.busch@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Collaboratively Combating Ocean Acidification: Assessing the economic vulnerability of US communities to Ocean Acidification

Abstract

The rise of atmospheric CO2 concentrations due to anthropogenic activities has had a broad range of effects on earth systems, including ocean acidification (OA). OA is a threat to marine species and ecosystems and the human systems that rely on them. Throughout the United States, industries and communities that depend on the cultivation of shellfish and wild-capture species as major resources are expected to experience impacts of OA as production levels are disrupted by changing ocean chemistry. For action to be taken at the Federal, state, and local levels through policy and management regarding OA mitigation and adaption, a uniform framework must be established to help communities and industries and the governmental systems associated with them respond effectively to future change. This research project aimed to create and assess a framework for the Federal, state, local agencies to implement effective policies and initiatives related to OA in the US. Through an in-depth interdisciplinary literature review on vulnerability, a framework was developed to assess vulnerability at a national scale in an interdisciplinary fashion. Throughout the project, there was also the engagement of communicating scientific efforts surrounding OA vulnerability and initiatives to the public, explicitly interacting with Federal and public lines of communication and information transfer.

Adrianne Wilson, EPP Intern | Email: adrianne.wilson@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS, Ph.D., Marine Biology and Ecology
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Emailebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Robert Allman, NMFS, SEFSC, Panama City, FL | Emailrobert.allman@noaa.gov 
Project Category:  Healthy oceans 

NERTO Title: Age and Growth of Lane Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico

Abstract

The sagittal otoliths for 499 Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris) were collected, processed and aged. Samples were collected from the Gulf of Mexico, ranging from the southwest tip of Florida to the eastern portion of Texas from January 2015 to October 2017. Otoliths were sectioned, mounted to a microscope slide and aged using a compound microscope. One reader counted annuli and sub-samples were read by a second reader to ensure consistent and accurate ageing. Fork length measurements ranged from 202mm to 495mm. The oldest fish aged was 13 years. There was a significant difference in the growth parameter estimates between males and females so they were analyzed separately. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters were for males: growth coefficient, K = 0.462, asymptotic length, L00 =378.17, and t0 = -0.868; and for females: growth coefficient, K =0.271, asymptotic length, L00 =383.42, and t0 = -2.08). 

Amanda Lawrence, EPP Intern | Email: alawrence@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  IMET – UMCES; M.S., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. J. Sook Chung, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: chung@umces.edu 
NOAA Internship Mentor:  Dr. Paul McElhany, NWFSC, Mukilteo Field Station, Ocean Acidification | Email: paul.mcelhany@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Developing methods to detect the effect of CO2 on the physiology of Dungeness crab

Abstract

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased from approximately 280 parts per million (ppm) to 387 ppm since the start of the industrial revolution (Feely and Doney et al., 2009). Current COconcentrations exceed that of levels that have not been observed in over 800,000 years (Luthi et al., 2008). This increased abundance in atmospheric COhas resulted in the oceans absorbing approximately one-quarter of anthropogenic CO2 (Sabine and Feely, 2007). This shift in oceanic conditions drives chemical changes that have the potential to leave ecosystems and a range of species at risk. Effects of projected seawater CO2 levels have been shown to alter olfactory-mediated behaviors in the economically and environmentally important Coho salmon (Williams et al., 2019). Gill breathers regulate internal pH through the process of ion transport, which is a process directly influenced by the changing water chemistry. More specifically, nearshore benthic ecosystems and calcareous species are predicted to experience some of the more severe impacts regarding a lowering pH (Wootton et al., 2008). Here we will utilize respiration rate to determine the energetic cost of maintaining internal pH in future oceanic conditions, specifically throughout the development of the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister.

Amanda Pappas, EPP Intern | Email: akpappas09@students.desu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Delaware State University, M.S. Natural Resources
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: gozbay@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Gary Wikfors, Northeast  Fisheries Science Center Milford, CT | Email: gary.wikfors@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies 

NERTO Title: Change in Photosynthetic Efficiency and Chlorophyll Fluorescence over Time in Prey Starved Dinophysis acuminata

Abstract

Dinophysis acuminata is an obligate mixotrophic dinoflagellate that is found in coastal marine water of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, brackish water tributaries, and bays.  Dinophysis acuminata is known in many cases to produce toxins of okadaic acid, Dinophysis toxins, and pectenotoxins.  These toxins are associated with Diarrhetic Shellfish poisoning in humans. Dinophysis acuminata is emerging as a potential threat to the developing oyster aquaculture industry in the Delaware Inland Bays.  There are sites within the Delaware Inland Bays that D. acuminata has been present in high concentrations, but how close spring blooms of D. acuminata come to shellfish aquaculture sites is not known.  Little is known of the bloom dynamics of this harmful algae bloom species within the Delaware Inland Bays. The results of this study will aid in determining how long chloroplasts acquired by D. acuminata through kleptoplasty remain functional under prey starved conditions.  Nutrients, light, and prey availability are drivers of spring blooms.  Understanding how long chloroplasts remain capable of photosynthesis in D. acuminata can inform questions on bloom dynamics and overwintering strategies. Culture of Dinophysis acuminata was fed prey, Mesodinium rubrum and then starved.  Results from a Fluorescence Induction and Relaxation System show a decline in the variable fluorescence (Fv/Fm) over time, indicating that the maximum quantum yield of photochemical quenching in PSII is decreasing with time. Results at 25 days indicate a decrease from Fv/Fm of 0.56 to 0.48.  Results of a linear regression analysis of the data show little variability between mean data points and relation between Fv/Fm and time.  Sampling and data analysis are still being performed.

Ammar Hanif, EPP Intern | Email: hanif.ammar@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  IMET – UMCES; Ph.D., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Rosemary Jagus , Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: jagus@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Ed Johnson, NOAA Headquarters, Silver Spring, MD. | Email: ed.johnson@noaa.govDr. Felipe Arzayus,  NCCOS, Stressor Detection and Impacts Division, Monitoring & Assessment Branch, Silver Spring, MD, | Email: felipe.arzayus@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Temporal Study of Diet and Microbiome of Mussels Collected from Lake Michigan

Abstract

Two species of invasive dreissenid mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) have successfully established across Europe and North America and have drastically changed resident ecosystems and food webs. Most studies involving these mussels in the Laurentian Great Lakes have focused on organism physiology, distribution, ecological effects, and genetics. This study aims to characterize the microbiome of dreissenid mussel gills, for which limited information is available. The microbiota of mussels is associated with their aquatic habitat and varies with factors such as salinity, bacterial load in the water, temperature and diet, and are likely to respond to environmental change. Limited data is available regarding the dreissenid mussel microbiome. The recent development of high-throughput sequencing and metabarcoding has given deeper insights into microbial communities. Preliminary monitoring efforts by the Mussel Watch Program suggest that the dreissenid mussel metabolome may change seasonally. This led to the initiation of a temporal study to address how environmental change affects the mussel gill microbiome and mussel metabolomics. We sampled the microbial community found within the gill tissue of D. r. bugensis collected biweekly or monthly from a single site in Lake Michigan between May and November. The microbial community will be assessed using high-throughput sequencing and metabarcoding. These data will be used to determine whether the mussel gill microbiome can be used as a biological indicator of water quality. This study is a collaboration between NOAA’s Mussel Watch program (Great Lakes region) and NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory that will augment ongoing studies of mussel physiology and benthic ecology.

Andre Price, EPP Intern | Email: alprice370@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Marine, M.S., Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Richard McBride, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: richard.mcbride@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Prey Identification and Quantification of Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) Stomachs

Abstract

Food habits of black sea bass (BSB, Centropristis striata) have been studied from trawl surveys in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, but no studies have compared food choices between specific habitats or locations. We sampled BSB at selected natural and artificial reefs near Ocean City, MD using hook-and-line angling to determine how habitat preferences influenced length frequencies, sex ratio, or dietary preferences.  Stomach content analysis was used to determine whether diets varied significantly between sampling locations. Preliminary results from 2016 indicate that crustaceans dominate diets of BSB by frequency of occurrence. This data will help to understand how BSB utilize different habitat types, and the contribution of reef habitats to BSB populations in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.

Angie Munguia, EPP Intern | Email: angelica.munguia@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major:  Oregon State University; M.S., Fisheries & Wildlife – Fisheries Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Jessica Miller, Fisheries & Wildlife  | Email: jessica.miller@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Laurie Weitkamp, NOAA Point Adams NWMFS Lab. | Email: laurie.weitkamp@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

NERTO Title: Juvenile salmon long term-habitat monitoring and field collections for action effective monitoring research (AEMR) in the Lower Columbia River and Estuary

Benjamin Frey, EPP Intern | Email: bfrey@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: CBL – UMCES; M.S., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisors: Dr. Rosemary Jagus, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: jagus@umces.edu
Dr. Dave Secor, Chesapeake Bay Laboratory | Email: secor@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Anne Richards, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: anne.richards@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Validation of age and growth estimates of New England and Mid-Atlantic demersal fishes using microstructural analysis of hardparts

Abstract

Monkfish (Lophius americanus) supports high value fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England. Conservative fishing quotas were imposed owing to refutation of traditional ageing methods that resulted in uncertainties in stock status. Without accurate age interpretation or validation, serious errors in the assessment and management of fish stocks can occur. This internship at the NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) examined the current assessment processes including fishery-independent methods, biological sampling, age determination methods for monkfish and other species (black sea bass, haddock, yellowtail flounder, red hake and silver hake) and age-dependent stock assessment models. I participated in a 2-week leg of the Northeast Fall Bottom Trawl Survey. I trained with the NEFSC Age & Growth group reviewing ageing methods for these species. I met with the assessment leads for each species, reviewing how age-dependent assessments are used in establishing biological reference points and evaluating stock status. My thesis research will continue to involve my NEFSC mentors as I develop novel approaches to age monkfish using trace element micro-constituent analysis of hardparts. 

Brian Galvez, EPP Intern | Email: briangalvez427@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Delaware State University, M.S. Natural Resources 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Stacy Smith, Natural Resources | Email: slsmith@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD. | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Determining diet of Delaware Bay weakfish using stomach content and stable isotope analysis 

Abstract

The weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) is a valuable commercial and recreational fish species that primarily occurs from North Carolina to New York. The fishery is depleted and has not rebounded due to unknown causes of elevated rates of natural mortality. We applied stable isotope and stomach content analyses to examine the diet of weakfish throughout the Delaware Bay from late spring to early fall in 2017 (May through October). Using these methods, our goal was to answer questions regarding the trophic ecology of weakfish including prey availability, prey preference, and prey origin. The bay was separated into three parts along the salinity gradient and weakfish were separated into three size classes representing ontogenetic shifts in diet (small- 0-60, medium- 60-100, large- 100-137 mm SL). We found that mysid shrimp, amphipods, and unidentified fish dominated the diet of weakfish throughout the summer and early fall. Examining stomach content by season, the percent frequency (%F) of mysid shrimp decreased significantly in the middle bay from late spring to summer (from 90 %F to ~60 %F) with a concurrent increase in amphipod consumption in the same period on the Delaware side of the bay (from ~15 %F to 90 %F). The opposite relationship between amphipod and mysid shrimp consumption was recorded from summer to fall. Stable isotope data was analyzed using generalized linear models (GLMs) and generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) for each isotope by each size class weakfish with the variables of bay location, season, and state. The goal of the GLM and GLMM results was to inform the setup of future stable isotope mixing models in terms of spatiotemporal scales. 

Cara Schweitzer, EPP Intern | Email: cara.schweitzer42@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Ph.D., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Michael L. Burton, NOAA Fisheries, Beaufort Lab, NC | Email: michael.burton@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Evaluation of Southeast Reef Fish Survey (SERFS) videos for Atlantic Sharks 

Cristin Mayes, EPP Intern | Email: cristin.mayes@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Hampton University; M.S., Applied Mathematics
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Eric Lewallen, Biological Sciences | Email: eric.lewallen@hamptonu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Michael Fogarty, NOAA NEFSC, Woods Hole, MA | Email: michael.fogarty@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans 

NERTO Title: Ecosystem Based Approaches to Modeling Fish Species Distributions in the Chesapeake Bay

Detbra Rosales, EPP Intern | Email: drosales@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Ph.D.,  Marine, Estuarine Environmental Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Pitula, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: jspitula@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. John Jacobs, NOAA/NCCOS/Oxford Lab. | Email: john.jacobs@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Seafood Safety

NERTO Title: The Influence of okadaic acid on gene expression and bacterial susceptibility 

Abstract

Diuretic shellfish poisoning (DSP) is a worldwide problem for bivalve aquaculture. Due to the presence of DSP toxins in oysters at concentrations that exceed set regulatory limits, there have been many closures to shellfish harvesting. This can lead to significant economic loses in both commercial and recreational shellfish industries. The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, can accumulate diuretic shellfish toxins (DST) when exposed to marine dinoflagellates that produce DSTs. Dinophysis and Prorocentrum are two dinoflagellate genera commonly found in Mid-Atlantic waters that are known to produce DSTs.  Studies have shown that dinoflagellate toxins producers, such as Alexandrium catenella can increase oysters’ susceptibility to bacterial infections. However studies on how okadaic acid affects oysters susceptibility is scarce.  Our goal is to provide insight on the stress response of C. virginica after laboratory exposure to OA and the bacterial pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus, through the analysis of the expression of HSP70 (Heat shock protein 70) and CP450 (Cytochrome p450) stress genes.

Emily Griffin, EPP Intern
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University, M.S., Marine Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Tara Cox, Department of Marine Science | Email: coxt@savannahstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Patricia Rosel, NOAA Lafayette, Louisiana. | Email: patricia.rosel@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Evaluation of the Southern Border of the Northern Georgia/Southern South Carolina Estuarine System stock of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) through Genetic Analyses

Abstract

The goal of this research is to learn the proper techniques to identify the correct stock boundaries of bottlenose dolphins. Identifying proper stock boundaries is essential for the proper management of protected species such as the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). This project is looking at potential genetic differences in bottlenose dolphin stocks off the coast of Northern Georgia. Biopsy samples were collected from dolphins in this region and will be taken to the Lafayette laboratory for further genetic analyses. The NGSSCES stock meets the Central Georgia Estuarine Stock at northern Ossabaw Sound just south of Savannah, Ga. However, recent research suggests this boundary needs to be re-evaluated. The information obtained while working in this lab will inform us if the southern border of the NGGSCES stock is accurate. Through the genetic work we will also have the opportunity to determine the sex of these animals as is very difficult to do in the field.

Enid C. Muñoz Ruiz, EPP Intern | Email: ecmunoz@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; M.S., Aquatic Toxicology
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Ali Ishaque, Department of Natural Science | Email: abishaque@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Ashok Deshpande, 732-872-3043, NEFSC, Sandy Hook, NJ. | Email: ashok.deshpande@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

NERTO Title: Method development of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) QUECHERS extraction in Scallops

Abstract

Plastic fragments, pellets, fibers and cosmetic beads less than 5 mm in size are termed as microplastics. These are emerging contaminants that in recent years have been found in tap water samples all over the world and a in a vast array of aquatic organisms with the possibility of toxic effects in them. Multiple studies have implied that, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), persistent bioaccumulative fire-retardant pollutants, in fish tissues display positive correlations with geographic plastic debris densities. Examination of this linear relationship with respect to the benthic environment using sea scallops as model organism is the research main focus. Scallop and bottom water column samples were collected from multiple regions across Georges Bank and Mid-Atlantic Bight. The optimum extraction method to yield the optimum quantification of hydrophobic bioaccumulative compounds in the Atlantic Sea Scallop, Placopecten magellanicus, using modern solid phase extraction “quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe” (QUECHERS) has been obtained. Sea scallops are important commercial organisms with fisheries dredging over 50 million pounds annually for seafood consumption; our research directly contributes to NOAA’s goal to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources by providing the scientific foundation for understanding many future studies of the dangers microplastics can have on important ecological commercial species.

Halie O’Farrell, EPP Intern | Email: hofarrell@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS; Ph.D., Marine Biology and Fisheries 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Enric Cortes, NOAA NMFS Panama City Field Laboratory, Panama City, Florida | Email: enric.cortes@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Comparing shark harvest control rules to potential biological removals when determining total allowable catches

Abstract

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires fisheries management councils to avoid overfishing by setting total allowable catch (TAC) limits. Currently, shark species’ TACs are set by estimating the relative abundance and projecting forward 20 years under various catch levels while accounting for uncertainty. The TAC is the catch level at which there is a 70% probability that the stock is not overfished in the projection period. While the use of projections is an established method used for many fish species, it is very complicated requiring a lot of information for several parameters and high computing time. In a climate where more stock assessments and management decisions are being requested in less time with fewer resources, a simpler, more efficient method for determining TACs is needed. Management of protected marine mammals utilized the potential biological removals (PBR) approach to set limits. Calculation of a PBR requires little information and they can be computed quickly. Because sharks have a similar life history to marine mammals we explore the possibility of using the PBR method as a more efficient method of establishing TACs. For the purposes of this exploratory work, shark species were limited to those assessed and managed in the south east United States and by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). TAC values were extracted from the latest stock assessments for each species, in addition to the information required to calculate a PBR. TAC and PBR values are compared to determine the validity of using the PBR method. This method has showed promise, but is not yet adequately supported as a viable solution.

Jorge J. Rodriguez, EPP Intern | Email: jjrodriguez@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. A. K. Nyame, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: aknyame@gmail.com
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Gary Wikfors | Email: gary.wikfors@noaa.gov & Dr. April Croxton | Email: april.croxton@noaa.gov; NOAA Lab, Milford, CT
Project Category:  Cytology/Molecular Biology

NERTO Title: Use of density step gradient centrifugation and differential lectin binding to characterize Mytilus edulis hemocyte subpopulations by flow cytometry

Abstract

Mytilus edulis, commonly known as the blue mussel, relies on circulating hemocytes to eliminate invading pathogens. However, there is a lack of knowledge about other functions hemocytes may carry, as well as their life-cycle and ontogeny. Currently, hemocyte subpopulations are classified by morphological differences observed through light microscopy. Here we report the elucidation of two hemocyte subpopulations based on density step-gradient centrifugation combined with the differential binding of Fluorescein (FITC)-conjugated Aleuria aurantia lectin (AAL) and FITC-conjugated wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) to cell surface glycoproteins.  Earlier lectin blot studies demonstrated that soluble hemocyte extracts from M. edulis hemocytes express glycoconjugates with terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine carbohydrate moieties. Flow cytometry analysis of FITC-conjugated AAL and FITC-conjugated WGA stained hemocytes demonstrate the presence of terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine carbohydrate moieties on M. edulis cell surface glycoconjugates. Additional studies reveal that the majority of these terminal carbohydrates are found on protein backbones that are susceptible to cleavage with trypsin, a protease known to cleave the carboxyl side of peptides containing lysine or arginine. The expression of these terminal carbohydrate moieties is not evenly distributed among hemocytes. Here we report that approximately 30% of hemocytes express glycoproteins with terminal N-acetylglucosamine, while 70% of hemocytes express glycoproteins with terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine. The expression of terminal fucose and N- acetylglucosamine increases as hemocytes increase in size and level of granularity. Interestingly, smaller agranular hemocytes do not express terminal fucose. These results show the presence of two distinct M. edulis hemocyte subpopulations based on the differential expression of cell surface glycoproteins with terminal N-acetylglucosamine only, or terminal fucose and N-acetylglucosamine.

Kasondra Rubalcava, EPP Intern | Email: kdrubalcava@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Paulinus Chigbu, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: pchigbu@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA/NMFS/ST/Ecosystems, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

NERTO Title: Development of a Maryland Coastal Bays Ecosystem Model to Assess the Influence of Climatic Factors on Biomass Distributions of Fish and Macroinvertebrates, Food Web Linkages and Community Structure

Abstract

The Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs) are a system of shallow lagoons on the US East Coast connected to the Atlantic Ocean by two inlets. They are one of the most ecologically diverse estuaries on the east coast and serve as a nursery for many commercially important species such as black sea bass, summer flounder and blue crabs. Due to their significant use by the public, MCBs are vulnerable to environmental and human pressures. Understanding how environmental parameters affect the ecosystem can help in managing a changing ecosystem. We created a fisheries ecosystem model consisting of 22 functional groups and species from the MCBs using Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) software to explore influence of environmental factors on biomass distributions of key fish species including summer flounder, black sea bass, bay anchovy, weakfish, and blue crab. The biomass input data used for Ecopath was estimated from abundance index data through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDDNR) Coastal Bays Fisheries Investigation Trawl and Beach Seine Survey. Time series data imported from 1990-2017 through the MDDNR survey was used to fit the model. Climate change scenarios were run using changes in temperature and salinity to analyze the effects they have on key species in the MCBs. The results of this study will aid in management of the MCBs as it is a nursery habitat for commercially important species.

LaTreese S. Denson, EPP Intern | Email: ldenson@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami – RSMAS, PhD., Marine Biology and Ecology
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ebabcock@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. James Thorson, NMFS, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, HEPR, Seattle, Washington | Email: james.thorson@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Environmental influences on indices of abundance for King Mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico examined through spatiotemporal geostatistical models

Abstract

During the NERTO experience from September to December 2018, I developed skills in random effects modeling to understand spatial processes in fish population dynamics, here-in referred to as geostatistical modeling. These models were tested using larval count data from the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) Fall Plankton Survey. Originally, a non-geostatistical model was fit to the data to derive an index of abundance for spawning stock biomass; however, the original index did not explicitly account for the uncertainty in spatial variation on population density or catchability. Failing to account for this source of uncertainty in a model, underestimates the overall uncertainty of an index of abundance. During the NERTO I began to explore the effect of spatial and spatiotemporal variability using a geostatistical model on King mackerel ichthyoplankton abundance indices and density distribution. I began with the use of delta-log normal models for zero inflated data. As expected, considering spatial variability creates a better model according to the Akaike Information Criterion. Additionally, adding spatial and temporal variability to the original model only slightly increases the standard deviation (uncertainty) of the index of abundance. Future research will include using Poisson-link models to better describe the error structure and variability in the data. I will also further investigate the individual contribution of the original covariates when considering spatial structure as well as environmental covariates such as temperature and chlorophyll.

Laura Almodóvar-Acevedo, EPP Intern | Email: lcalmodovaracevedo@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Howard Townsend, NOAA/NMFS/ST/Ecosystems, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Oxford, MD | Email: howard.townsend@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Habitats

Abstract

The objective of this study is to have empirical data about black sea bass respiration rates at different temperatures. This information will give us a better idea of black sea bass bioenergetics and will also be incorporated into a juvenile black sea bass habitat suitability model for the Chesapeake Bay.

Matthew Ramirez, EPP Intern | Email: matthew.ramirez@oregonstate.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University, PhD., Fisheries Science
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Selina Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife | Email: selina.heppell@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey E. Moore, CMAP Leader (California Current Marine Mammal Assessment Program), Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA | Email: jeff.e.moore@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Integration of habitat-specific growth variation into assessment models: a case study in the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

Abstract

Spatiotemporal variation in demographic parameters can strongly influence a species’ population dynamics but is generally not included in sea turtle population models due in part to lack of sufficient data. For example, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that inhabit the U.S. Atlantic Coast grow slower than conspecifics that inhabit the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Coast, which may lead to differences in age at maturation for individuals or whole cohorts. To evaluate the influence of this variation on Kemp’s ridley population dynamics, this NERTO experience focused on developing an improved age-structured population model for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that incorporates habitat-specific vital rate estimates (growth, survival). Using a ~30 year dataset of somatic growth rates obtained through skeletochronology, we developed habitat-specific (Atlantic, GoM) maturation schedules for this species. In addition, ongoing analyses are using 20 years of stranding length frequency data collected through the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network to estimate habitat-specific survival rates that will be included in the model. Ongoing analyses will examine model sensitivity to changes in stage-and habitat-specific model parameters. This project will help answer critical question about the contribution of somatic growth variation, habitat use, and Atlantic turtles, which have been excluded from all existing population models, to Kemp’s ridley population dynamics.

Nicole Kleponis, EPP Intern | Email: nicolekleponis@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Delaware State University, M.S., Natural Resources 
CSC Academic Advisor:  Dr. Christopher Heckscher, Agriculture and Natural Resources | Email: checkscher@desu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jeannette E. Zamon, NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service, NWFSC, Point Adams Research Station, Hammond, OR | Email: jen.zamon@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Seabird Capture and Diet Analysis

Abstract

Seabird populations have been declining globally and there is little diet information for seabirds in the Colombia River Plume in Oregon. Sooty Shearwaters and Common Murres were captured to obtain stomach content for analysis. Soft tissue analysis was first conducted and then the samples were digested to conduct hard part analysis. The majority of fish found in the 2013 samples analyzed were anchovies.

Rebecca Wenker, EPP Intern | Email: rwenker@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, M.S., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Vincent Guida, NMFS NEFSC J.J. Howard Lab, Highlands, NJ. | Email: vincent.guida@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Development of alternative search strategy for assessing densities of clumped distribution species within a comprehensive image database

Abstract

The systematic search strategy currently used for photo evaluation of large image databases does not work well for species with clumped distributions. Therefore, we planned to develop an adaptive search strategy to better define the habitat of and relationship between black sea bass (Centropristis striata) and sea whip coral (Leptogorgia virgulata), which could then be extrapolated to evaluating other species with a clumped distribution. Unprecedented delays and setbacks prevented this study from being completed to the original extent desired. However, we were able to locate 92 images where at least one black sea bass was present, and 57 where at least one sea whip coral was present. The close proximity and overlap of these images further supports the notion that there is a relationship between these two species.

Shadaesha Green, EPP Intern | Email: sgreen@umces.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: IMET – UMCES; PhD., Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science Program
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. J. Sook Chung, Marine & Environmental Technology | Email: chung@umces.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Mr. Bruce Vogt, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, MD | Email: bruce.vogt@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Striped Bass Habitat Indicator for Chesapeake Bay

Abstract

The Chesapeake Bay striped bass (Rockfish) is an iconic species. The Chesapeake Bay serves as the largest nursery habitat for Atlantic striped bass. The main objective of this study was to improve the understanding of nursery habitat areas for juvenile striped bass that support survival and recruitment to the adult population. This project was two-fold: (1) develop a conceptual model indicating factors impacting juvenile striped bass nursery habitat and (2) prepare the Chesapeake Bay striped bass nursery habitat assessment’ Request-for-Proposal (RFP) for submission to the Chesapeake Bay Trust. To complete these tasks interviews were conducted with a variety of scientists and fishery managers in the Chesapeake Bay region to gather their insight on factors influencing nursery habitat for juvenile striped bass.

Shanelle Haughton, EPP Intern | Email: sohaughon@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Pitula; Department of Natural Sciences | Email: jspitula@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Pamela Jensen, NOAA Western Regional Center, Seattle, WA | Email: pam.jensen@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

NERTO Title: Understanding Hematodinium sp. in Alaskan crabs: new hosts, improved detection and health effects in a changing ocean

Abstract

Changes in environmental conditions due to climate change, including increases in sea water temperature, may be linked to increasing rates of pathogen infection in marine animals. One of the pathogens in which host selectivity and prevalence could be influenced by factors like increasing water temperature is Hematodinium sp., an endoparasitic dinoflagellate that can cause significant mortality and economic loss in crustacean fisheries. Hematodinium sp. causes bitter crab disease/syndrome in the economically important snow and Tanner crabs, a fatal infection characterized by lethargy and discoloration of host tissues and carapace due to massive numbers of parasites in host hemolymph and tissues. Work completed during this internship will contribute to future research to better understand the influence of Hematodinium sp. infection on Tanner crab immunity and physiology. My work during this internship consisted of three major parts: 16s sequencing mini project, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) sample collection, and Tanner crab RNA extractions.

Shaneese Mackey, EPP Intern | Email: shaneesemackey19@gmail.com
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Savannah State University, M.S., Marine Science 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown, Department of Marine Science | Email: hoskins@savannahstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Ron Hill, NOAA SEFSC Galveston Lab, TX | Email: ron.hill@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: UAS Habitat Assessment Project

Abstract

Advancing technology like unmanned aircrafts (UA) can be used by scientists to collect information about the abundance or density of a species that would normally require human efforts. Usage of UAs increases field efficiency and decreases the amount of effort while being less invasive to the environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of using unmanned aerial system (UAS) to assess oyster reefs and wetland habitat. Images of oyster reefs were collected using the APH-28 Hexa-copter during low tide. Images were stored on an external hard drive, uploaded to Drone2Map for stitching, then brought into ArcGIS 10.6 to perform spatial analysis using the Hogland method. Using the Hogland method on obtained UA images would increase the estimation of potential fish habitat at a resolution of 1m. The findings of this project would help project managers be less invasive to the environment while obtaining data on the species and habitat.

Stephanie Martinez-Rivera, EPP Intern | Email: smartinez@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Chris Long, NOAA AFSC, Kodiak Lab, Alaska | Email: chris.long@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Eastern Bering Sea Crab Survey training for CSC graduate student

Wilmelie Cruz-Rivera, EPP Intern | Email: wcruz-marrero@umes.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, PhD., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Bradley Stevens, Department of Natural Sciences | Email: bgstevens@umes.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Doerr, MS. NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center- Galveston Laboratory | Email: jennifer.doerr@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Evaluation of fisheries parameters for a commercially important marine mollusk: growth rates and habitat distribution

Abstract

Queen conch is a marine mollusk that inhabits the Caribbean. This species is one of the main economic resources for small-scale fishers of the area. This resource has been over harvested for decades due to poaching and the high demand of both conch meat and shell. In 1992, queen conch was listed in Appendix II for commercially treated species in parts of the Caribbean. This initiative has promoted scientific investigations to improve the management of the species across the Caribbean. In this study, we estimated queen conch growth rates using two different types of growth models. We used mark-and recapture data to calculate growth rates obtained in      2005-2009 in St. Croix, USVI.  Queen conch growth was estimated using both siphonial length and shell width. Population abundance was calculated using Schnabel method. Results of the research showed that growth patterns using siphonial length are higher in juveniles conchs whereas shell width growth is slower in juvenile conchs and greater in adults. Schnabel abundance showed increase overtime with some seasonal variations. The information provided in this research, could improve the understanding of growth patterns of the species and may improve the management of the species.

Brittany King, EPP Intern | Email: brittany.king@oregonstate.edu 
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Oregon State University, Ph.D., Fisheries Science 
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Kelly Biedenweg and Dr. Jessica Miller, Fisheries & Wildlife  | Email: kelly.biedenweg@oregonstate.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Robert Fonner, NOAA NWFSC, Seattle, WA | Email: robby.fonner@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Socio-economics

NERTO Title: Ecological, Institutional and Social Influences on Habitat Restoration Efforts in the Pacific Northwest

Abstract

TBA

Juan Carlo Cervera, EPP Intern | Email: juan.cervera@rsmas.miami.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: University of Miami-RSMAS; M.S., Fishing & Fisheries Sci & Mgmt
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. David Die, Marine Biology and Ecology | Email: ddie@rsmas.miami.edu
NOAA Internship Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Leo, NOAA SEFSC Galveston Lab, Galveston, TX. | Email: jennifer.Leo@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

NERTO Title: Inland Essential Fishery Habitat Mapper Application

Abstract

Essential fishery habitats (EFH) are designated to preserve and maintain those sensitive ecosystems vital to managed fishery species for growth, survival, and reproduction. Impact assessments are performed allowing NOAA specialists to consult with project managers, determine impacts, and recommend mitigation actions to protect those habitats. With many projects being developed in near shore areas, and little clear guidance regarding EFH designations in the Southeast Region, the Habitat Conservation Division (HCD) receives numerous unnecessary consultation requests which can overwhelm their office.  We developed an application that relays high-resolution spatial data needed for accurate determinations of EFH that is user-friendly at all stakeholder levels, including developers, permitters, as well as HCD staff. Several iterations were considered before deciding on an HTML/JavaScript web application currently under testing with NOAA offices.

Sierra Hildebrandt, EPP Intern | Email: sierra.hildebrandt@my.hamptonu.edu
CSC Affiliation: NOAA-Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
Home Institution and Major: Hampton University; Biological Sciences-Marine Science, M.S., Marine, Estuarine Environmental Sciences
CSC Academic Advisor: Dr. Deidre Gibson, Marine & Environmental Science | Email: deidre.gibson@hamptonu.edu
NOAA Internship Mentors: Dr. Shawn McLaughlin, Jason Spires, and Stephanie Westby, NOAA Cooperative Oxford Lab, Oxford, MD. | Email: shawn.mclaughlin@noaa.govjason.spires@noaa.gov
Project Category:  Healthy Oceans

NERTO Title: Investigating the Impacts of Adult Oyster Conditioned Water on Crassostrea virginica Larvae Setting Efficiency Utilizing Direct Setting Techniques in the Hampton River, VA

Abstract

Direct setting is an alternative technique to remote setting that utilizes pediveliger stage oyster larvae to directly seed oyster reefs. This study investigated the impact of varying concentrations of Adult-Oyster-Conditioned-Water (OCW) on Crassostrea virginica larval setting in the laboratory and field. In the laboratory, oyster larvae were introduced to setting chambers with varying concentrations of OCW and allowed 7 days to settle. Field experiments were conducted in which oyster larvae were exposed to either a low or high OCW treatment for 30 minutes and then directly set on artificial oyster reefs. In the laboratory and field, setting efficiencies varied among treatments. This research suggest that OCW may enhance setting efficiencies in the field.

NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Lead Institution)
(410) 651-7870
Award numbers: FY 2016 Award #NA16SEC4810007 
Funding Agency: NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI)

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