16 Aug 2013 – Touching a 2000 year old oyster

Oyster reefs have been challenged by overharvesting, land-based development and poor water quality over the last 100 years.  But, what did oyster reefs look like several 100s of years ago?  In an attempt to detect these long-term changes in the vitality of oyster reefs in the Lowcountry, our graduate course in Marine Invertebrates embarked on a collaboration with Martha Zierden of the Charleston Museum to quantify the size, shape and condition of oysters from 2000 years ago to the present.  Bottom line: oysters are narrower and shallower but also taller today than before.  It is likely these morphological changes reflect lower population sizes today than previously.  See https://sites.google.com/site/gricecove/historical-ecology-of-oysters for more details.

We had a ton of fun holding onto 2000 year old oysters!  Thank you, Martha, for facilitating this study.

20 May 2013 – Busy summer season

The semester has ended, and the lab is chock full of new faces.  Megan Judd (technically an older face!) is a CofC undergraduate that was awarded a SURF grant to pursue a reciprocal transplant experiment with the saltmarsh plant Spartina alterniflora.  Edna Mary Diaz-Negron is a rising senior at the University of Hawaii at Hilo working on the feeding behavior of the decorator work Diopatra as part of her REU-MIMES fellowship.  And Jess Murden is a rising senior at Academic Magnet high school who will be exploring the chemical defenses of the invasive seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla as part of her Senior Honors thesis.  Welcome to all!

24 March 2013 – 42nd Benthic Ecology Meeting

Courtney Gerstenmaier, Nicole Kollars, and Erik all gave talks at this year’s installment of Benthics in Savannah, GA.  The session on invasive species were dominated by Gracilaria vermiculophylla talks, between ours and those of our colleague Jayna DeVore (Postdoctoral scholar, Byers lab).  It was a great meeting, as is usual for the southern versions of Benthics.

01 March 2013 – Gordon Conference on Plant-Herbivore Interactions

Erik went to the 12th Gordon Conference on Plant-Herbivore Interactions this week, and presented a poster on “Diffuse coevolutionary arms-race between seaweeds and urchins on tropical coral reefs.”  This is an intensive experience, where you interact with the same 150-200 people for five straight days from 9am-midnight.  A ton of fun, inspirational, and a great way to catch up with friends and colleagues.  Unlike previous years, my marine colleagues were absent, which was a bit strange.  Hopefully, the organizers will see fit for a marine/aquatic session in the next conference three years hence.

03 January 2013 – Masters’ thesis published

Amanda McCarty (M.S. Marine Biology 2008) published her thesis in Oecologia this year. (“Geographic variation in feeding preference of a generalist herbivore: the importance of seaweed chemical defenses“).  Congratulations!  This is the 2nd article from her time in our lab, the first being a 2009 article in the Journal of Chemical Ecology.  Amanda is now at the Climate Change group of NOAA.

07 November 2012 – Western Society of Naturalists

I am heading to Seaside CA for WSN to give a talk on “Coevolutionary arms races between herbivore offenses and seaweed chemical defenses in tropical reefs.” It’s been too long since I’ve attended this fantastic meeting, which holds a special place in my heart as the first professional conference I ever attended. Looking forward to seeing everyone!