Marine Invertebrate Zoology

nemerteanGraduate students enrolled in Marine Invertebrate Zoology generated two on-line resources targeted to scientists and the general public interested in marine biodiversity of coastal South Carolina.  First, students in 2011 generated an online guide to invertebrates found in Charleston Harbor.  Each invertebrate includes a picture, a brief description on the animal’s morphology, distribution, habitat, and life history, and links to a variety of online resources for that species.  Second, students in 2012 documented marine invertebrates at three local sites: the Folly Beach groin, Fort Johnson, and Murrells Inlet. All three of these sites have been surveyed in the past (between 30 and 60 years ago), and the students uncovered changes in the species composition at each location.  This “historical ecology” project focused on the effects that climate change and introduced species may play in coastal South Carolina ecosystems.

2011 Colloquium

The 15th annual Marine Biology Student Research Colloquium was held on September 23 and 24, 2011. The colloquium featured keynote speaker Dr. John Bruno, a marine ecologist and Associate Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Bruno’s research focuses on marine biodiversity, coral reef ecology and conservation, and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. Thirteen marine biology and environmental studies students gave oral presentations of their research at the colloquium. Kristin Stover received the best oral presentation award for her talk “Performance changes when exposed to varying oxygen levels in the Atlantic blue crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun.”  Additionally, seventeen students presented posters of their thesis research this year. Timothy O’Donnell received the best poster presentation award for his research “Characterizing the genetic population structure and genetic influences of winter-kill events in spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) in South Carolina.” The colloquium concluded with a cookout and Lowcountry Boil for students, professors, and attendees at the SCDNR outdoor classroom.

Grice, Where Research Thrives

College of Charleston’s graduate students in marine biology began the New Year presenting their research at various conferences around the country.  Mark Stratton recently presented his research at the Southern Division American Fisheries Society meeting in Tampa, Florida from January 13-16, 2011.  This year’s meeting was titled “Fisheries Connectivity: Headwaters to Oceans”.  Mark’s poster, “Application of community indicators to the snapper grouper complex in southeastern U.S. Atlantic continental shelf waters” was a part of a special symposium titled “Southeast Reef Fishes”.

On January 20, 2011 the 5th annual Graduate Student Research Poster Session took place on the downtown campus.  The following marine biology graduate students presented posters:  Jenn Bennett, Walter Blair, Casey Darling, Cameron Doll, Anna Manyak, David Shiffman, Sammi Smoot, Mark Stratton and Kristen Stover.  David Shiffman won an award for the best marine biology poster.  This poster session highlights the graduate research of multiple disciplines. This year there were 29 entries from Communication, Education, English, Environmental Studies, History, Marine Biology, and Public Administration.

Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SCIB)

The Grice Marine Lab had a high profile at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), held January 3 – 7, 2011, in chilly Salt Lake City, UT.  Fourteen faculty members, postdocs, grad and undergrad students presented their research findings and mingled with more than 1400 other conferees at the Salt Palace Convention Center.  New faculty member Dr. Andrew Clark chaired a well-attended afternoon session on “Adhesion and Locomotor Substrate Effects.”  In other sessions, Dr. Alison Welch reported on body condition in gray tree frogs, while Dr. Agnes Ayme-Southgate linked molecular biology to the biomechanics of insect flight muscle and Dr. Eric McElroy revealed the impacts of tail autonomy on locomotion in grass lizards.  Dr. Bob Podolsky, graduate student Sammi Smoot, and undergraduates Diego Castro and Gabe Segarra presented their data on antimicrobial and antipredator defenses and tether strength in molluscan egg masses.  Graduate students Nat Johnson, Kris Stover and Casey Darling discussed their work with Drs. Lou and Karen Burnett on antimicrobial and antioxidant defenses and on locomotion in crustaceans. Burnett lab postodoctoral fellow Dr. Kristin Hardy summarized recent studies on molecular adaptations to hypoxia in blue crabs.  Outside the formal sessions, the Grice group took advantage of opportunities to network and discuss the research with their peers and enjoy some of the local sites and even, for some, a little skiing.

Professors Present Their Research at a Global Change Conference

Dr. Louis and Karen Burnett presented their research findings at the Global Change and Global Science: Comparative Physiology in a Changing World conference of the American Physiological Society this August in Colorado.  The Burnett Laboratory studies the effects of high carbon dioxide and low oxygen levels on marine organisms.  Organisms with environmental stresses as these have been shown to display a decrease in their metabolism and are unable to efficiently fight off infections.  The marine organisms they study are accustomed to environmental stresses such as these and are still showing compromised immune systems.  Therefore, it is shocking to think of the stresses deep water organisms could be facing with decreased oxygen levels coupled with high carbon dioxide.  With scientists focusing their attention on the risks of ocean acidification, the Burnett laboratory’s research may provide a peak into these possible dangers the animals and their environments may face.  For more information please visit the full article.

Bermuda Research Voyage

Marine Biology Professor Dr. Gorka Sancho along with two geology professors, Dr Leslie Sautter and Dr. Scott Harris left for Bemuda on May 21, 2010. During this cruise, they will guide 16 college students through an indiviudal research project to investigate the southeast continental shelf or Gulf Stream. The voyage aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134-foot sailing vessel, will take 5 weeks. In addition to their research projects, the students will learn how to sail this amazing ship. You may view the video below for a glimse of the ship and the adventures to come.

Collaborative Research Highlighted in NIST Techbeat

A NIST Techbeat article titled Marine Lab Hunts Subtle Clues to Environmental Threats to Blue Crabs spotlights a collaborative research effort between National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the College of Charleston (CofC). The research group is using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to evaluate oxidative stress in the economically, ecologically and recreationally important species. The research conducted at the Hollings Marine Laboratory is discussed in detail in their recent Metabolomics publication.