New project to expand shrimp black gill research
The Blakeslee and Morley labs are receiving new funding from North Carolina Sea Grant to continue our research on the parasite that causes black gill disease in shrimp. This research will include sampling shrimp from across the state to estimate infection rates, and using field and laboratory approaches to examine how habitat and water quality impact infection. In other states, black gill disease has been linked to declines in the shrimp fishery.
Cambria presents to Aquatic Nuisance Species Committee
The NC Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Management Plan Steering Committee is a multi-agency group that is working to revise and finalize objectives for a state-level plan for managing invasive species. Cami joined one of the committee meetings and presented her research on trophic impacts of blue catfish, which are listed as a high-priority species in the ANS Management Plan.
Cambria awarded APNEP & Sea Grant Graduate Fellowship
Each year the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership and NC Sea Grant award one graduate student a $10,000 fellowship to conduct research in NC estuaries. Cambria was awarded the 2024 fellowship. She will be using the funds to support her research on invasive blue catfish and their indirect impacts on water quality. Blue catfish are feeding on clams in the Albemarle Sound, which may reduce the amount of natural water filtration.
Jim presents to NC Oyster Steering Committee
The Oyster Restoration and Protection Plan for NC is provided oversight by the Oyster Steering Committee, which meets routinely to discuss progress towards objectives. This month, Jim presented our Lab's research to the committee, providing a broad overview of the multiple projects we've conducted that examine the habitat impacts of oyster culture.
Chloe presents her research at annual ECU competition
The Three Minute Thesis is an international competition for graduate students, and ECU hosts an annual 3MT event. The rules for this competition are that students have three minutes to present their work, using only a single slide. Chloe scored well in the competition, presenting her work on black gill disease in shrimp, and contributed significantly to our department's performance. In fact, Biology took home the Department Cup!
CSI hosts event to promote oyster culture
An oyster-themed dinner was hosted at CSI, featuring locally grown cuisine. People in attendance included local Dare County residents, business owners, oyster farmers and distributors, and a local non-profit group. Jim presented our Lab's research on oyster farm impacts on estuaries, and also sat on a Q&A panel with the NC Coastal Federation's Oyster Program Director, and local oyster farmers.
New report assesses climate vulnerability of southeast species
Over the last 10 years NOAA has been rapidly assessing the vulnerability of hundreds of marine and estuarine species in U.S. waters to climate change. The methods they are using involves a combination of expert judgement by scientists and also climate modeling output. The assessment for southeast U.S. species has recently been published as a technical report. Jim was a contributing author. LINK
Fisheries Lab featured on Sci NC
Andrew and Jim were recently featured on the PBS show 'Sci NC' to talk about their research on oyster culture farms. The segment also focuses on our use of acoustics technology to gather data on habitat function of oyster farms. Watch the video here (LINK).
Ella joins lab as an OBX Field Site intern
Each fall semester CSI hosts a group of undergraduate students from UNC-CH as part of the OBX Field Site. In addition to coursework, students get hands-on research experience. Ella will be working in the Fish Lab, where her primary job will be to measure fish abundances over artificial reef material in Pamlico Sound using acoustic imaging technology. Her work will support our lab's ongoing project examining the oyster sanctuaries in NC.
Andrew presents at Georgia Environmental Conference
The Georgia Environmental Conference hosts a mix of business, industry, governmental, and academic scientists and consultants. Andrew was awarded a scholarship by the GEC to attend and present his research. He shared results from his work on coastal inlet habitat function, giving both a poster (LINK) and oral presentation.
Andrew selected as the International Fisheries Section Fellow
Each year the American Fisheries Society awards one graduate student with the International Fisheries Section Fellowship (LINK). Andrew was selected as the 2023 fellow and AFS funded his trip to England where he presented his research at the annual symposium of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles. At this international conference, Andrew shared his work on fish movements around commercial oyster farms.
Ray Delvillar joins the lab as a technician
Over the past couple years Ray has regularly volunteered his time to help our lab conduct fieldwork. He also conducted independent research with our lab during the summer of 2021, as part of his undergraduate program. Ray is now being brought on as a paid technician, primarily to help with our blue catfish diet study in the Albemarle Sound. Ray is currently a senior in the biology program at ECU.
How does Black Gill Disease in shrimp vary at short time scales?
Sophia recently participated in a poster presentation social at CSI, which marked her completion of the REU program. Her independent research this summer effectively demonstrated that black gill infection of brown shrimp can vary substantially from one week to the next, and infection can also vary over small distances in an estuary. With an experiment on brown shrimp, Sophia also found evidence of physiological stress at low salinities. Her results will do a great deal to inform future sampling and experimental research for this parasite-host relationship. View her poster here LINK. Sophia will be returning to Florida State U. for her junior year.
Verena gives seminar at CSI
CSI hosts a semi-weekly Lunch-&-Learn seminar series. The series typically features ECU scientists who present about ongoing projects. This month Verena spoke about her ongoing research that is examining how marine fishes shift their habitats as they progress through their life cycle.
New project examining impacts of carbon capture mineral
The Army Corps of Engineers Research Facility on the Outer Banks recently hosted a stakeholder event to help kick off a new project. The company Vesta, is planning an experimental deployment of the carbon capture mineral called Olivine off the Outer Banks. The Fisheries Lab, along with other CSI scientists, are partnering with Vesta to examine potential impacts of this mineral on the ecosystem. At the stakeholder event held this month, Jim sat among a panel of scientists (including Paul Paris from CSI) to answer questions from members of the NC Division of Coastal Management, Division of Marine Fisheries, local town leaders, and others.
Verena and Andrew volunteer on NOAA research cruise
The NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center conducts an annual survey of reef fishes off the Atlantic coast between North Carolina and Florida. This survey provides important biological and abundance data for the management of many important fisheries (including Red Snapper). Verena and Andrew volunteered for a two-week leg of this survey. They spent this time at sea catching fish in traps and then collecting data and biological samples from specimens, such as otoliths to be used for aging fish. This is the second year that members of the Fisheries Lab have volunteered; Verena and Maddie also participated last year.
Lela begins new job with Avangrid
Dr. Lela Schlenker is moving on to a new and exciting job! She will be working as a biologist with Avangrid, a renewable energy company that is developing Kitty Hawk Wind off the Outer Banks. Lela will be communicating with stakeholder groups, especially fishers, as parts of the ocean are being developed for energy production. Lela has been with our lab since the fall of 2020. We are sad to see her go, but luckily she will still be living on the OBX. Lela will continue to be involved with our projects on NC ecosystem indicators and black gill disease in shrimp.
Sophia joins the lab as an REU student
For the third summer in a row, CSI is hosting a group of undergraduates from around the country to conduct independent research through the REU program. Sophia Williams, a student at Florida State University, will be working with our lab to study black gill disease in shrimp. Over the next two months, she will conduct an experiment that examines the effect of salinity on shrimp. Sophia will also be sampling shrimp in two different regions of Pamlico Sound to compare black gill prevalence.
Chloe awarded research funds
The American Museum of Natural History awards research funds for marine ecology projects each year through the Lerner-Gray Fund for Marine Research. Chloe was one of the recipients this year, receiving $1500 to support her field and laboratory research on black gill disease in penaeid shrimp.
Verena gives invited seminar and attends conference in Florida
On two occasions this month Verena has presented her research on the effects of species life history on climate change adaptability. The first was at an international conference, "Species on the Move" in Bonita Springs, FL. Over two hundred attendees from around the world were present to share research from a wide range of ecosystems and species groups. The following week, Verena gave an invited seminar to UC Santa Cruz, as part of their series "Diverse Voices in Fisheries Science."
New paper out on shrimp-climate relationships
Three species of penaeid shrimp contribute to a very important fishery in North Carolina. Annual abundance varies greatly, and some long term trends in the species composition are evident. Lela published a paper in Plos One describing the relationships that shrimp have with climate and weather patterns (LINK). The future dynamics of the three species of shrimp in Pamlico Sound will be highly sensitive to changes in climate.
Cambria joins the lab to research blue catfish
Blue catfish are an invasive species along the U.S. Atlantic coastal plain. Their numbers have risen sharply within Albemarle Sound, NC during the last decade. The Albemarle is an important region for NC fisheries production. Over the next couple years, Cambria will be analyzing the diets and trophic dynamics of blue catfish in this region. Cambria's previous position was at the University of Texas, where she worked as a field and laboratory technician with a fisheries lab at the UT Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas.
Open House at CSI
On Earth Day, the Coastal Studies Institute celebrated 10 years on the OBX campus of ECU. Several hundred people from around Dare County (and visitors from farther away) came to learn about what we do at CSI. Verena, Lela, Andrew and Jim were there to represent the Fisheries Lab. An article was written in the Coastal Review about the event, which highlighted our lab (LINK).
Caid and Andrew lead Shad in the Classroom
Shad in the Classroom is a collaborative project that many classrooms in eastern NC take part in. Students learn about fish and the history of an iconic anadromous species, American shad. Caid and Andrew participated in this effort, leading multiple classroom activities at First Flight Middle School in Kill Devil Hills on the OBX. They led students in lessons on shad morphology and anatomy.
Fisheries Lab attends annual Tidewater AFS Conference
The entire Fisheries Lab attended the annual Tidewater Chapter Conference, which is part of the American Fisheries Society. The meeting was held in Solomons, MD, including a poster session at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. Maddie, Verena and Lela each gave an oral presentation, while Chloe and Andrew presented posters. It was a great showing by ECU overall. Jim has served as chapter president during the past year, and will continue on for one more year as past-president. Maddie, Andrew and Caid all serve as officers on ECU's AFS student subunit.
Topleft - Maddie presents her research on juvenile sheepshead; Bottomleft - the Fish Lab cleans up on raffle ticket items!; Above - Andrew wins the Eileen Setzler-Hamilton Memorial Scholarship Award.
New paper out describing method for tagging fish
Satellite tags are a method to track the movements of animals in the ocean. However, they have mostly been used on larger animals, due to the relatively large size of the tags. In a new paper (LINK), a method is described using a new generation, and smaller, satellite tag on adult sheepshead, a relatively small species of fish for this approach. Andrew and Jim are coauthors on the paper, with colleagues from UNC and NCSU.
Charlotte Grimes receives award to conduct research with the Fisheries Lab
The Office of Undergraduate Research at ECU has awarded Charlotte Grimes $1,800 to conduct an independent research project with the Marine Fisheries Ecology Lab. As part of Charlotte's undergraduate honors thesis at ECU, she will spend 4 weeks at CSI and work with our lab to use acoustic imaging technology to measure how fish use oyster sanctuaries in Pamlico Sound. Previously, Charlotte spent the Spring 2022 at CSI, as part of the Semester Experience at the Coast program.
Andrew selected as a Water Scholar & awarded research funds
The ECU Water Resources Center has awarded Andrew $1,400 to conduct research on how fish use coastal inlet habitats. Specifically, Andrew will be using acoustic imaging sonar to measure how environmental factors influence fish movements through inlet channels. Andrew will also be one of the WRC Water Scholars for 2023. At left is a video clip from imaging sonar used in Beaufort Inlet during our fall 2022 sampling season.
Andrew attends workshop on inlet dredging impacts
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NOAA Beaufort Lab hosted a workshop where seven teams presented research on the function of coastal inlet habitat, and how dredging to maintain depth for shipping vessel access impacts this ecosystem. Andrew presented his research on using sonar technology to measure seasonal changes in habitat use in Beaufort Inlet. Collectively, the group is conducting one of the most comprehensive examinations on the ecology of coastal inlets.
New project on the trophic impacts of invasive blue catfish
Blue catfish are invasive within many systems along the Atlantic coastal plain, where they can become one of the most abundant predators. Their broad diet, long life span, and large size means they have the potential to negatively impact native species, including important resource species. The Fisheries Lab, along with collaborator Fred Scharf (UNC-Wilmington), have been awarded funds by the NC Commercial Fishing Resource Fund to estimate trophic impacts (predatory and competition) of blue catfish in the Albemarle Sound ecosystem.
Andrew & Jim attend Southern Division AFS conference
The Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society hosted its annual conference in Norfolk, VA. Andrew presented his research on sheepshead movements around an oyster farm. Jim co-hosted a two day symposium on marine fisheries. Andrew serves on the Communications Committee for AFS's Student and Early Career Professional subsection and also as treasurer for ECU's AFS subunit. Jim is currently the president of the Tidewater Chapter, within the Southern Division AFS.