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Abstracts Fall 2010

Rhythms In The Sea: From Neurons to Nature

Win Watson

Professor of Zoology, University of New Hampshire

24 Sep 2010

For much of his life Dr. Watson has been fascinated with rhythms.  Early in his career he focused on how networks of neurons generated different types of rhythms.  More recently, his interest has turned to circadian and circatidal rhythms and the factor that influence when animals express these different patterns of activity.  In this talk Dr. Watson will give 4-5 examples of this work, in species ranging from nudibranches to horseshoe crabs.  For each example he will describe both the problems they encountered and how they overcame them.  One of the overarching themes of the talk will be that experiments never work the first time and it is important to embrace the challenge of solving each and every problem.


Eavesdropping on Biogeochemistry: Microbial Metatranscriptomics in the Ocean

Mary Ann Moran

University of Georgia

8 Oct 2010

Metatranscriptomic sequencing is providing new insights into the factors that regulate microbial activities in the ocean. By observing community gene transcription patterns and how they shift in response to environmental changes, we are improving our understanding of microbial activities underlying marine carbon and sulfur cycling, including DMSP turnover and bacterial responses to phytoplankton blooms.


Meeting the Challenges of Coastal Urbanization in the May River Watershed:  A Case Study in Locally-Based Water Quality Monitoring

Derk Bergquist


15 Oct 2010

The May River, a tidal river located in Beaufort County, SC, represents an important economic, recreational and cultural resource for local citizens.  In response to rapid population growth and expanding development in the May River watershed, community leaders have taken a series of progressive steps to address the potential consequences of land use changes including initiating several water quality monitoring programs.  As data from the monitoring programs accumulated, local stakeholders found themselves in a "data rich, information poor" situation.  Although the volume of data was substantial, the ability of those data to address their concerns and inform pending management decisions was uncertain.  At the stakeholders' request, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) reviewed the water quality programs, framed the primary programmatic questions, compiled and analyzed all relevant available data, and provided recommendations for program improvement.  An overview of the historical context, partnerships, and findings of the monitoring programs will be presented along with a general (and hopefully familiar) framework for developing and improving locally-based monitoring efforts.


Seamount Exploration and Discovery in the Gulf of Alaska

Peter Etnoyer


22 Oct 2010

Seamounts are large, submerged peaks of volcanic origin. Satellite derived estimates place their number in the tens of thousands worldwide. Collectively, they are one of Earth’s largest habitats. Twelve seamounts in the Gulf of Alaska were mapped and explored 2002-2004 using the NOAA ship Atlantis and DSV Alvin manned submersible. The mission was to collect deep-sea corals and sponges for species identification, characterization of the community, age and growth. The adventure will be detailed here with photos and videos from the expeditions.


When It Rains, It Pours: Interactive Effects of Multiple Stressors on Energy Metabolism in Oysters

Inna Sokolova

University of North Carolina, Charlotte

29 Oct 2010

Living in highly productive estuarine environments comes at a price to estuarine organisms such as oysters requiring them to cope with multiple stressors such as fluctuations in environmental temperature, salinity, oxygen availability, pollution and pH. In this presentation I will discuss how multiple stressors (exposure to a toxic metal Cd, temperature, hypoxia and elevated CO2 levels) interactively affect mitochondrial physiology and energy metabolism of oysters, and how presence of some stressors such as elevated temperature sensitizes oysters to other stress factors. I will focus on the energy homeostasis as a unifying principle that can help in explaining synergistic effects between different stressors and identifying physiological mechanisms that set limits to stress tolerance in oysters.


Eggs to Die For: The Uncertain Future of an Ancient Survivor

Doug Peterson

Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

5 Nov 2010


For many centuries, caviar has come to symbolize both the affluence and sophistication of the Western world. In recent years, however, the international caviar market has fallen into crisis as rampant overfishing and habitat destruction have led to the worldwide collapse of sturgeon populations from the Caspian Sea to the Atlantic Coast of North America. In this presentation, Dr. Peterson will review the critical linkages between sturgeon biology and habitat as well as the socioeconomic conditions that led to the current caviar crisis. Dr. Peterson will also review current research and conservation efforts currently underway to help bring Southeastern populations back from the brink.


Fish and Shrimp: Developing Research Themes with Undergraduate and Graduate Students

Carla Curran

Savannah State University

12 Nov 2010

This talk will focus on some research being conducted at Savannah State University by the presenter and her students and will be comprised of three themes: grass shrimp biology, flatfish ecology, and the translation of science into published K12 activities.  The daggerblade grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio is host to a variety of parasites including the bopyrid Probopyrus pandalicola.  This parasite has the potential to reduce shrimp densities because hosts no longer reproduce while infected.  Mean parasite prevalence ranged from approximately 1-3% in South Carolina and Georgia estuaries and given these values, potential egg production can be reduced by up to 335 eggs/m3.  They have found that there is no effect of the parasite on shrimp behavior or swimming endurance.  Instead, shrimp activity was affected by size, tidal stage, and time of day.  Furthermore, there was no effect of the parasite on the likelihood of shrimp being eaten by the mummichog Fundulus heteroclitus.  Recently their research is focusing on the effect of multistressors (shrimp with parasites plus insecticides or coded wire tags) and they have found differences in predation rates and LC50 values.

Flatfishes use estuaries as settlement and nursery grounds.  The timing of settlement events varies among species.  The purpose of their study was to determine the seasonal changes in the abundance of flatfishes in a small tidal creek in Georgia.  Three replicate two-minute tows were conducted once a month using a 1-meter beam trawl with a 1-mm mesh net.  They collected mostly bay whiffs Citharichthys spilopterus, although they also found blackcheek tonguefish Symphurus plagiusa and summer flounder Paralichthys dentatus.  Blackcheek tonguefish were the most abundant flatfishes from November to December, while bay whiffs had a pulse of 104 recently settled individuals in January.  Bay whiffs ranged from 0.5-9.3 cm TL, while summer flounder and blackcheek tonguefish ranged from 7.6-16.3 cm TL and 3-7.6 cm TL, respectively.  Although there were often periods during which one species dominated, they usually found multiple species on the same date.  They have since converted this research into a K12 activity that demonstrates the large distances juvenile flatfish travel if their small size is considered.  Also, they have devised activities to describe flatfish movement and sampling design.  K12 activities related to grass shrimp have focused on the scientific method, the food web, and life history.


Biomechanics of Hagfishes: Sausages with Sharp Teeth and Strong Eggshells

Andrew Clark

College of Charleston

19 Nov 2010

A significant portion of Dr. Clark's research program involves video and electromyographic approaches to investigate the biomechanics of jawless feeding in hagfishes, which is motivated by his interest in the evolution of chordate feeding mechanisms. Instead of jaws, hagfish grasp food with protractible cartilaginous tooth plates that possess keratinous teeth. Hagfish can forcefully drive these teeth into prey and ingest considerably large portions of food, however the feeding apparatus is a speed-limited system that compromises the ability to capture elusive prey. Despite this functional constraint, the hagfish feeding system has a successful evolutionary history and works well at meeting the demands of natural foraging habits. Remarkably, the hagfish feeding mechanism is powered by a musculoskeletal system almost completely devoid of rigid tissue. The forceful tooth plate retractor muscle originates from a soft origin that stiffens when hydrostatic forces are produced by activated muscles situated at the retractor muscle origin. Another important component of Dr. Clark's research program investigates the material properties and tensile mechanics of hagfish egg casings, which bear strong resemblance in form and function to oviparous chondrichthyan egg casings. As with chondrichthyans, hagfishes deposit large, tan eggs possessing strong, isotropic casings that endure harsh marine climates for long periods of time. Though similar in strength, chondrichthyan egg casings are an order of magnitude stiffer, which implies differential predation stresses.


Long Bay Hypoxia Research: A Collaborative and Multidisciplinary Project

Denise Sanger, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

3 Dec 2010

Long Bay, the coastal ocean from Cape Fear, NC to Winyah Bay, SC, experienced a hypoxic event in the summer of 2004.  A Long Bay Working Group of state and federal agency and academic partners (managers and scientists) have been working together since then in an attempt to understand the event, and obtain funding to conduct research.  More recently (2009), Long Bay experienced another prolonged hypoxic event.  The working group, as well as some new partners, quickly responded to this event with a variety of research efforts.  This multi-state and multi-agency collaboration has led to a wide range of research and monitoring efforts, including: real-time monitoring of water quality, numerical modeling, spatial water quality assessments, process-oriented studies of pelagic respiration and microbial metabolism, and groundwater inputs.  This presentation will discuss both the scientific findings and the collaborative nature of the project.